Blog Articles

By - Brian Iselin

Published : 30-11-2018

The ‘S’ in ESG

Until now, anyone investing in business was buying into a couple of simple facts.

  • 77% of businesses admit they are likely to have modern slavery in their business. That means 77% of YOUR investments in business are investing in modern slavery.
  • Less than 6% of businesses have sufficient visibility of their supply chain to know if there is modern slavery. That means in more than 94% of investments, YOU don’t know what you are investing in.
  • More than 2/3rds of consumer would not buy a product if they knew there was modern slavery behind it. Let’s replace ‘consumers’ with YOUR ‘investors’; logically the numbers cannot be dramatically different.

The field of impact and ESG investments is filled with investors and fund managers trying to be ethical about where money is placed. Trying to do the right thing is hard. It should be; the right thing always was, is, and will be.

The ‘E’ has proved tough, with even expert mistakes in tackling deforestation, for example. But the ‘S’, the Social, in ESG has largely been ignored. A quick scan of ESG literature will amply demonstrate. Go ahead, Google it.

Why has the ‘S’ been relegated? Because it has been very, very difficult to know anything about what sort of impact business practices have had on humans and whether you are buying into it. Let’s paraphrase it this way: it is lot easier not to know.


  • How is your due diligence looking if you are 94% of the time not in possession of enough information to know if you are investing in modern slavery or not?
  • Increasingly the due diligence burden of proof is falling on businesses themselves to know, and investors to find out before investing, for example, people’s retirement savings into modern slavery.
  • Legislative regimes are gradually cottoning onto this fact. In the coming 2-3 years, we predict investment prospectuses will be required to include modern slavery statements.
  • In the same timeframe, we expect insurers will expect investors to know more about the ‘S’ in their investee’s supply chains, for supply chain risk and Director’s liability. How is your insurance looking for breaches in your supply chain when you could have done something about it?
“Knowledge is power; it seems unwise not to wield it.”

If you are an investor, an investment fund, or a fund manager, and you want to be ethical, taking care of the S in your ESG claims, there are a couple of really important things slavefreetrade does with organisations and their supply chains that you need to know about.

“Fixing the ‘S’ in ESG is finally possible”

We have spent the last 2 years building what is the world’s most comprehensive human rights framework for organisations. We have built those objective international standards into a huge matrix of subjective, contextual questions we ask employers and employees all over the world. We have combined that human rights framework with advanced hybrid blockchain and conventional technologies more complex than the Hubble Telescope. With this combination, we are able to secure through both primary and secondary source evidence, the working conditions in workplaces globally. Anywhere in the world. Anywhere in the supply chain. At any time.

“Advanced hybrid blockchain and conventional technologies more complex than the Hubble Telescope”

We talk to workers in real time, all the time. 10s of millions of them. And find out from them about their workplace conditions. But we don’t crush or close down business with problems, we work together to fix issues. Unless, of course, the business is not willing to fix the problem, in which case they are simply excluded from the platform and hence the supply chain.

“Only good actors allowed in this club, thanks very much.”

We let businesses see for the first time EVERY layer in their supply chain, every workplace, and an assessment of the conditions in those workplaces. Excuses for not knowing? Dead in the water.

The 6% knowing something, and the 94% knowing nothing, is about to be the outdated paradigm. We are gunning for 100% knowledge of the supply chain.

And you know how confident we are in the results of our work? In the vast majority of workplaces, 99% CI. Those are numbers you can quite literally take to the bank. Decades of experience in anti-slavery operations around the world mean you better believe we know what we are talking about.

It works like this: as an investor you can join our platform and your investees are treated as suppliers by our system. Our platform connects with every investee in your portfolio, and we talk to every worker in that investee’s workplaces. Your investees are required to import their supplier lists. And we talk to every worker in their supplier’s workplaces. And so on, down the line to the bottom.

Until about last month, it used to be an enormous and blameworthy distance between Tier 1 and Tier 3 of a supply chain. The distance, complexity, and opacity, has masked and excused unethical behaviour for as long as supply chains have existed.

The new paradigm is that everyone is someone’s Tier 1. And we discover it for you, map it for you, connect with every supplier everywhere, and talk to every worker everywhere in real time, all the time.

Mind blown?

Please make sure you are not investing in slavery. Now that it is possible to know, there are no more excuses for not knowing.

If you are a fund, such as for pensions, and you can guarantee that no business you invest in is carrying modern slavery risk, what is that worth to you and your clients? It would be wonderful to see how many people saving for their retirement would like to know their pensions are propping up slavers.


If you are an investor and can swear hand on heart that you have done everything absolutely possible (by the ‘now possible’ standard), how are you looking about now to potential clients?


Join slavefreetrade now, and we can tell you how to get that peace of mind.

Do your best; you AND your clients deserve it. Earn and proudly bear one of our badges for your portfolio or fund.