Understanding and Governing the Global Business of Forced Labour

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Politics

Abstract

The overall aim of this research is to achieve an in-depth understanding of how forced labour (and overlapping practices like slavery and human trafficking) operate in global supply chains. In other words, to understand how criminal individuals or organisations profit from formal industry, either through deliberate processes of human trafficking or by the exploitation of already vulnerable workers. Key questions include: What factors create 'demand' for forced labour within supply chains? What are the pathways that allow forced labour access to formal industry? How do perpetrators of corruption and illegality escape detection by the authorities, and by the retail companies 'leading' these supply chains? The new and important evidence base generated through this project will contribute to ongoing academic and policy debates on the causes of, and solutions to, forced labour in global commodity production.

The research questions will be investigated through a range of qualitative methods including elite interviews with key informants and ethnographic field research among workers themselves. Supply chain analysis will be used to understand the firm-to-firm dynamics of forced labour along each of the five stages of the supply chain (raw material, component, manufacture, distribution and retail). The research will focus on cocoa and tea sectors dominated by UK retail companies; both sectors have widespread reports of forced labour, high levels of subcontracting, and industry-led anti-slavery initiatives. While there are media reports and anecdotal evidence to suggest that forced labour is thriving in the cocoa and tea industries, to date, there is no robust research on the business models that give rise to it.

The project will provide high impact, multidisciplinary research for a wide-ranging audience, including government, civil society, and business organisations seeking to combat human trafficking, forced labour, and modern slavery. It will produce recommendations for how recent 'Anti-Slavery' legislation can be enhanced to combat the global business of forced labour. It will also provide recommendations and 'best practices' to strengthen existing business strategies for detecting and preventing forced labour within global operations. The research findings will be disseminated widely to the public, through online newspaper articles and regular media output (high quality press and radio). This will allow the specific academic themes of the project to be translated into broader topics for debate and discussion.

Planned Impact

I am conducting this research to fill an information and policy gap around the business demand for forced labour. From the outset, this project has been designed in collaboration with non-academic users. On May 12, 2014, I convened a focus group of 30 policymakers and civil society representatives at the University of Sheffield (UoS) to co-design the project's aims, objectives, and methodology. The project has been expressly designed to directly benefit these groups, as well as others actively involved in formulating and promoting initiatives to address forced labour and modern slavery in the UK and globally, including: a. Businesses seeking to combat forced labour in their supply chains; b. Local and national governments attempting to eradicate forced labour; c. International organisations dedicated to raising labour standards; d. Societies vulnerable to forced labour in the UK and the rest of the world.

Impact among three groups will be especially significant, and will be achieved in distinctive and innovative ways:
1. Policy actors. Building on my successful track record of parliamentary engagement with the UK's Draft Modern Slavery Bill, I will collaborate with existing contacts within the Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery to launch the project Report in Parliament. Project advisory board member Matthew Hamlyn (House of Commons) has committed support. The Report will include recommendations for how current UK Anti-Slavery legislation can be enhanced to combat the global business of forced labour, ensuring traction among policy makers. As a result of this research, government agencies will gain knowledge about business drivers and underlying forces which will enhance the efficacy of future public policy.

2. Businesses. In order to ensure impact among businesses, I will: hold an industry-representative focus group in London; produce an industry brief with recommendations and 'best practices' for companies seeking to detect or prevent forced labour within their global operations; present findings at the Retail Industry Leaders Association conference. As a result of this research, UK-based businesses will be able to more effectively predict where and how forced labour might manifest in their supply chains. It will catalyse efforts to modify social auditing practices to focus on portions of the supply chain where forced labour is most likely to occur, and thus contribute to global economic performance. The involvement of Rosey Hurst, Director of the ethical audit firm Impactt, as an advisory board member will help ensure traction among industry.

3. International organisations. The involvement of the ILO, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, as a research and dissemination partner will foster impact among organisations dedicated to raising labour standards in the global economy. Through participation in the project advisory group and dissemination workshops, civil society representatives will co-create knowledge about the measures required to adequately protect victims of forced labour. In addition, by generating new knowledge about the limits of current governance initiatives, this project will facilitate knowledge-driven NGO engagement with policy makers and the public.

In order to achieve these aims, I will mobilize the networks of two UoS research institutes-the Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute-to which I am affiliated. I also have support from three mentors at the UoS-Professors Nicola Phillips, Andrew Geddes, and Jason Heyes-as well as two outside mentors: Professor David Spatz (Yale University) and Dr. Jean-Marie Kagabo (ILO). Finally, an international mixed practitioner and academic advisory board comprised of leading academics as well as representatives of industry, House of Commons, and the ILO will help ensure the research achieves traction and participation.
 
Description Not applicable this year. Data collection is still underway.
Exploitation Route Not applicable this year. Data collection is still underway.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
 
Description There is an important information and policy gap around the business demand for forced labour. The project has been expressly designed to directly benefit these groups, as well as others actively involved in formulating and promoting initiatives to address forced labour and modern slavery in the UK and globally, including: a. Businesses seeking to combat forced labour in their supply chains; b. Local and national governments attempting to eradicate forced labour; c. International organisations dedicated to raising labour standards; d. Societies vulnerable to forced labour in the UK and the rest of the world. I am in regular contact with all four sets of stakeholders, and they have played a critical role in co-designing my research. At this point in the project (roughly 8 months into a 3 year project), we are collecting data and thus the findings are unknown, however, I have already begun to facilitate public debate on the issue of governing slavery in global supply chains. In September 2016, I convened and edited a written debate on openDemocracy.net entitled, 'Can Corporations be Trusted to Tackle Slavery in Supply Chains?' That debate brought together nine movers and shakers in the field of labour policy (including several advisors to my project) to discuss the best strategy for combating labour abuses in global supply chains. I asked respondents to reflect on whether we should continue with 'corporate social responsibility', or favour an alternative of international legal liability and accountability. Respondents included: Anannya Bhattacharjee (Garment & Allied Workers' Union); Urmila Bhoola (UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery); Cathy Feingold (AFL-CIO); Hugh Helferty (Queen's School of Business); Houtan Homayounpour (International Labour Organisation); Ed Potter (Formerly of the Coca-Cola Company); Anna de Courcy Wheeler (The Freedom Fund); Lara White (International Organisation for Migration); Leonardo Sakamoto (National Commission for the Eradication of Slave Labour). The debate was published in collaboration with one of the project's impact and dissemination partners, Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and attracted widespread attention within the media, from policymakers, and NGOs and activists. The introductory article to the debate, which I co-authored with Joel Quirk, "Introducing the terms of debate: regulation and responsibility in global supply chains" has been read over 25,000 times. I will continue to collaborate with stakeholders on my research and build connections with impact partners, to ensure that once the data collection and analysis is complete, the findings will have pathways for impact. I will also continue to build public debate about the core governance issues raised by my project.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice,Retail
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services
 
Description Global Research Challenges Fund
Amount £130,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/P006906/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Title Interviews and survey with tea and cocoa workers 
Description We are in the midst of completing a new database that will shed light into the labour conditions of tea and cocoa workers in India and Ghana. The research design underpinning this database combines multiple qualitative methods to shed light into associated research questions, as well as triangulation methods to consolidate and validate research findings. This database is designed to build a fine-grained understanding of how forced labour operates in the tea and cocoa sectors, focusing on sites in India and Ghana. It sheds light into research questions 1-3: 1. Where, why, and how does forced labour manifest in legitimate industry?; 2. What cost structures, revenue streams, and resources characterise the business models of forced labour deployed within chocolate and tea commodity chains?; 3. Who are the perpetrators of forced labour within the cocoa and tea industries and what is the modus operandi of these individuals/organizations?. This database has five key components: a) Pilot studies in India and Ghana; b) Survey and ethnographic research among workers in India; c) Survey and ethnographic research among workers in Ghana; d) Elite interviews in India; and e) Elite interviews in Ghana. Data collection is currently in progress. The pilot studies in India and Ghana are complete. They survey (N=1000) and ethnographic research in India and Ghana are underway. The interviews are also under way, with 45 of 120 complete, and transcription underway. A coding framework is in place. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Database is still in progress. 
 
Title Mapping and analysis of cocoa and tea supply chains 
Description The knowledge built up in this database will provide the foundation for our understanding of how forced labour operates within these sectors, and thus shed essential light into research questions 1 and 2: Where, why, and how does forced labour manifest in legitimate industry?; and What cost structures, revenue streams, and resources characterize the business models of forced labour deployed within chocolate and tea commodity chains? This WP has three key components: a) supply chain mapping using secondary data; b) the construction of a database using NVivo; and c) preliminary interviews with experts. Components b) and c) are complete and component a) is in progress. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None applicable this year; database is in progress. 
 
Description International Labour Organization 
Organisation International Labour Organization (ILO)
Country Switzerland, Swiss Confederation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution As described in my grant proposal, the International Labour Organization (Geneva) are an impact collaborator for this project. I have contributed to their work on labour standards in global supply chains by giving input on draft initiatives and reports, through informal discussion with staff, and by presenting at their conferences in Geneva.
Collaborator Contribution To date, the International Labour Organization have advised on the project methodology and provided introductions that have helped gain access to research participants for interviews. Field offices in India and Ghana have advised on field work in those countries.
Impact Yes, this collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The International Labour Organization staff are comprised of statisticians, policy advisors, lawyers, and other professionals.
Start Year 2014
 
Description University of Amsterdam Research Collaboration 
Organisation University of Amsterdam
Country Netherlands, Kingdom of the 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have launched a partnership with the Political Economy and Transnational Governance Research Group at the University of Amsterdam, to explore data sharing and methodological innovation to inform my project.
Collaborator Contribution My partners at the University of Amsterdam, including Professors Brian Burgoon, Daniel Mugge, Luc Fransen, Frank Takes, and Eelke Heemskerk have visited Sheffield to explore methodological innovation in political economy, including discussion of possible new methods for my project, including Social Network Analysis, Process Tracing, and QCA. In October 2016, my partners will host myself and colleagues at the University of Amsterdam for a workshop on labour standards in global supply chains.
Impact I have secured £10,000 from the University of Sheffield International Mobility Scheme towards this partnership, and £20,000 in follow-on funding from the University of Sheffield Faculty of Social Sciences to continue the partnership until 2018.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Yale University Working Group on Modern Slavery 
Organisation Yale University
Department Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As a result of my ESRC research, I was asked to launch and Co-Convene the Yale University Working Group on Modern Slavery. This working group brings together leading academics from universities across the US and Europe to share and strengthen our individual research projects, lead the field, and develop collaborations.
Collaborator Contribution Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will convene and host the Working Group twice a year and perform all administrative support associated with its activities, under the supervision of Professor David Blight, the Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center and Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale.
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary and involves history, law, political science, sociology, management studies, and cultural studies.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisor to Why Slavery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I advised The Why Foundation on their new Why Slavery? film series (currently in production). Produced by leading national broadcasters including CNN, BBC, CBC, and 70+ others, these films will be released to audience of 750 million people in 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://thewhy.dk/blog/2016/04/28/why-slavery/
 
Description British Academy Summer Soiree 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was a presenter at the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences Summer Soiree, attended by over 1000 guests ranging from policymakers to distinguished fellows of the British Academy. My presentation focused on methodological challenges in the social scientific study of forced labour. As a result of my presentation, I was asked to meet with the Home Office regarding methodological techniques to estimate forced labour in supply chains. I also received a number of requests for film and media interviews.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.britac.ac.uk/soiree2016
 
Description Collaboration with the Royal Opera House 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited by the Royal Opera House to view their production of Manon Lescaut and reflect on its relevance to modern slavery. After discussion with the Royal Opera House staff, I wrote a journalistic article entitled 'Contemporary truths in Manon Lescaut: a powerful glimpse into modern slavery' which was published on the Royal Opera House website. I am told that the article attracted interest in the production and discussion about modern slavery.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.roh.org.uk/news/contemporary-truths-in-manon-lescaut-a-powerful-glimpse-into-modern-slave...
 
Description Forbes profile on ESRC research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Forbes magazine ran a profile on my research, entitled 'Supply Chain Audits Work for Corporations, but not the Planet, Says New Report,' written by Jonathan Webb. The Forbes story sparked debate and several invitations to share my research with policy and business audiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.forbes.com/sites/jwebb/2017/01/16/supply-chain-audits-work-for-corporations-but-not-the-...
 
Description Interview on Yale MacMillan Report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Interviewed by Marilyn Wilkes for Yale University's MacMillan Report, a one-on-one interview format broadcast that "showcase the innovative work that the Yale faculty affiliated with the MacMillan Center are doing, and to share this impressive body of research with the Yale community and the world."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx1Vmc1T8_Y&t=1s
 
Description Interviewed by Karen Burke for Radio France Internationale (RFI English). 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed by Karen Burke for Radio France Internationale (RFI English). Quoted in story, "Europe-Migrants at Risk from Human Traffickers, Says EU Report" about modern slavery.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://en.rfi.fr/europe/20160519-migrant-risk-human-traffickers-says-eu-report
 
Description Kings College Transnational Law Institute Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On 10-11 November 2016, I spoke at a workshop entitled, 'Labour Regulation in Global Supply Chains' hosted by the Transnational Law Institute at Kings College, London. The event was attended by around twenty experts of labour standards in supply chains, including lawyers, NGOs, and policymakers, as well as by post-graduate students. It sparked debate and discussion afterwards, and the convenors are currently working towards a grant proposal that would harness the expertise from that event to influence policy on labour standards in supply chains.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Northern Exposure Meet the Press Lecture series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact As part of the University of Sheffield's Northern Exposure 'Meet the Press' series, I gave a talk for postgraduate students on how to share research with the wider public, reflecting on my experience as Editor of openDemocracy's Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. The event was attended by around 20 students and was recorded for wider dissemination. Fellow panelists included: Peter Cole, Emeritus Professor and previously reporter and US correspondent for the London Evening News and Deputy Editor of The Guardian; Jonathan Grun, Emeritus Editor of the Press Association and twice President of the Society of Editors; Anna Minton, The Guardian and Reader, School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, University of East London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Off the Shelf Festival of Words / Festival of Debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On 2 November 2016, I gave a public lecture as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words, co-sponsored by the Festival of Debate. The lecture was attended by around 75 people, including representatives of NGOs and the general public. It generated excellent debate and several further speaking invitations. The lecture was covered with a feature story in Now Then magazine (http://nowthenmagazine.com/sheffield/issue-102/genevieve-lebaron/).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://offtheshelf.org.uk/
 
Description Public Lecture at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On 16 June 2016, I gave a public lecture on 'The Problems with Social Auditing Forced Labour in Supply Chains,' at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation in Berlin. The talk was attended by representatives of international organizations, the EU Commission, national governments, trade unions, lawyers, industry, and academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description SOAS 25th Anniversary Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I gave a public lecture at SOAS, University of London, on 25 October 2016 entitled "Combatting the Business of Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains." Part of their flagship 25th Anniversary of Development Studies Lecture series, the lecture was attended by over 100 students, journalists, and NGO representatives. It sparked questions and discussion afterwards and several attendees have followed up to report increased interest in the subject and to discuss potential solutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.soas.ac.uk/development/research/labour/events/25oct2016-combatting-the-business-of-force...
 
Description Talk at the University of Milan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave a talk at Universita Degli Studi Di Milano as part of an ERC-funded workshop on the 'Genealogies and Practices of Debt' linked to the Shadows of Slavery Project, 22-23 September 2016. The talk was attended by policymakers and NGOs and resulted in deeper understanding of the linkages between debt, migration, and labour unfreedom in the global economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Webinar for Assent Compliance Inc. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Assent Compliance Inc are a company that assists multinational corporations with their global environmental and human rights compliance strategies. They hosted a webinar on 'Looking Ahead: Human Rights Reporting and Accountability,' for corporate compliance managers, to help businesses understand how they are affected by new human trafficking legislation and what they need to do to comply. The event was chaired by Assent Compliance's Kate Dunbar, Human Trafficking Subject Matter Expert, and featured myself and Ethical Trading Initiative's Cindy Berman. The webinar was attended by around 100 industry representatives and then published on Youtube and has raised company awareness about the need to comply with new legislation and provided tools and advice on how to do so.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efFutItXZT4
 
Description Yale University Film on Slavery in Supply Chains 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Yale University hired a filmmaker, Daniel Vieira, to make a 15-20 minute documentary about my research on forced labour in global supply chains. I worked with Daniel and David Blight, Professor of History at Yale and a best-selling author on slavery, to write a script and shoot the film. The film was shot on March 6th 2016 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA and is currently in production. The film will be distributed by:

Yale University YouTube
CityWide Youth Coalition
Immigration and mass incarceration activists
openDemocracy-Beyond Trafficking and Slavery distribution networks
Films for Action (online documentary distribution network)
Teaching for Change (provides social justice materials for secondary school classrooms)
Teaching Tolerance (project of the Southern Poverty Law Center): http://www.tolerance.org/
Relevant Film Festival circuits
Community-based broadcasters (local access)
Relevant museums/art galleries/community spaces/Libraries (digital archives).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017