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By - Staff Editor

Published : 28-11-2018

Why do we ask 1st world workers what they might think are 3rd world questions?


Do you know that we ask every employee and every employer in every workplace the same core questions. Why?

One reason is data consistency; those core questions are the same ones for every worker, every workplace, industry, country, employer. We need a set for a comparable baseline consistency.

Another reason is that the core questions are the essential proofs against our 10 Principles for a Decent Workplace. So, passing those 20 is the key to the door to continuing in the platform.

But there are more, many more, reasons we do it.

A big reason we ask every employee everywhere about modern slavery, even in OECD countries, is that those countries have modern slavery too. Nobody can be assumed to be a decent workplace, immune from modern slavery, or excused just based on where they are. Some industries are worse than others, of course, but most OECD countries have 10s if not 100s of thousands in modern slavery. Let’s all just stare for a while at the likes of Amazon right here…. So, we would be foolish to assume that just because a workplace is in the first world that it is free of modern slavery or, indeed, that it is a decent workplace.

Secondly, every single employee and employer is also a consumer. And consumers buy slavery which is why we are doing what we are doing about slave-free labels on products from slave-free supply chains. The mobilised consumer is crucial.

Around 70% of consumers give a damn about modern slavery in the things they buy (they say they would not buy if they knew). By extension, around 70% of the staff we question presumably give a damn about modern slavery.

(And yes, there are a large number of people who don’t care a bit about slavery. That other 30%, frankly, are just such sad humans that, like everyone’s pervy old uncle Harry at the wedding, we don't talk about them).

Another reason we ask the same core questions everywhere is that every single employee and employer has a stake in having a decent workplace.

It might be a fairly safe starting assumption that 70% of employees who care enough not to want to buy things made in slavery, also don't want anything other than a decent workplace for themselves, and maybe also their family and friends. Do you think roughly that same 70% also don't want other people, no matter who or where, to be working in slavery. Not at least to their knowledge. They probably don't want the workers of their business partners and suppliers to be slaves. So, we ask employees of 1st world businesses about their conditions because we hope they will be sufficiently aware of modern slavery that they extend that concern to people proximate to them.

And, again, the other 30% are also just sad, and we probably should not have employed them in the first place.

We also ask 1st world workers what they think are 3rd world questions because, in a 500,000 person 1st world company, I challenge you to find that rare gem, the statistical 1 person who knows what modern slavery is and looks like. If 499,000 do not know what modern slavery is, how can they understand it? How can they identity it?

What is one of the best ways to improve someone's understanding and ability to identify any issue? Ask any educator: ask them questions about it; it both discovers and informs.

Another great reason to ask is derived from that point above about every single employee and employer also being a consumer, and all consumers buy slavery. The holy grail for those working on issues like modern slavery is awareness raising. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on raising awareness of modern slavery. Generally, though, this works for those who are already somewhat aware. The general population? Nah, not so much.

So, what about we reach a huge, broad target audience with just a bit of useful, contextual information to help them all be better able to understand and identity modern slavery? Like we said, a company with 500,000 staff? That is already the biggest possible awareness-raising footprint than most multi-million dollar campaign. Multiply that by 100 or 1000 for every big company whose staff are in our platform? Well, that would be the world's biggest movement against modern slavery, and the most directly impactful awareness-raising campaign in history.

The last reason is that we are building a movement of the like-minded and the ethical. That means, in figurative terms, building a wall around the ethical community to keep modern slavery out. We ask everyone everywhere in that ethical community because ´, when building a security wall, you don’t reach for chicken wire. Holes are not good. Holes let things in you don’t want. A workplace that we don’t ask the workers about their conditions is a major gap in the regime and that kind of Swiss cheese makes no sense for integrity or certainty.

For these reasons and perhaps still more we just haven’t thought about yet, we ask 1st world staff what they might think are 3rd world questions. As a result, we get essential statistical consistency across supply chains, countries, products etc. They arguably become better consumers, they are better informed about what modern slavery looks and feels like, and they give more of a damn about their own workplace conditions, and the workplace conditions of those they deal with and buy from.

So, when we ask you if your passport was withheld as you sit in your comfy office in London, think of the butterfly effect, interlinkages you cannot see, and the myriad ways that might just be helping you and others far away to live more decent lives.