Two House members known for trailblazing support of anti-slavery laws introduced a new measure Monday that would require large corporations to publicly disclose if they are taking steps to prevent human trafficking, modern-day slavery and child labor in their products or services.
The measure is called the “Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015.” It is cosponsored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).
“There is no question that many goods being sold to American consumers are produced with slave labor, and we have a moral obligation to do something about it,” Maloney said in a statement late Monday. “This legislation simply requires businesses to publicly disclose what actions they have voluntarily undertaken to remove labor abuses from their supply chains. It is a good first step we can take to improve reporting and transparency so that we can enforce existing laws against labor abuses and allow consumers to make more informed decisions.”
“Some companies may participate knowingly in human trafficking to pad the bottom line; others are willfully ignorant of where and how their inexpensive products are made; and still others simply do not know,” Smith said in the statement. “The bottom line is there is no excuse for a company’s complicity or ignorance in the suffering endured by human trafficking victims hidden away in the supply chain. It is not enough for a company to say they are unaware of human trafficking in their product line; consumers and Congress want to know that companies are actively taking steps to ensure there are no connections between human trafficking victims and their business products and services.”
The bill targets publicly-traded companies with more than $100 million in global gross receipts. They would be required to include in their annual reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a notification of any efforts to prevent slavery in their product supply chains. Disclosures would be posted on the SEC and company websites for public access.
The introduction follows today’s publication of the State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, which stressed the need for governments to “set clear expectations for businesses on human rights issues and adopt policies that promote greater transparency and better reporting on anti-trafficking efforts in supply chains.”
The law introduced Monday is modeled after the groundbreaking California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which took effect in 2012. That law applies to retailers and manufacturers doing business in California. However, because California is America’s largest state economy, many national corporations are already disclosing anti-trafficking due diligence under California’s law. The measure introduced in Congress would expand the principles of California’s approach to all large companies nationwide.
Learn more about the new federal legislation on Rep. Maloney’s website.
Learn more about the California law and corporate compliance on the Know the Chain website, a project of several anti-slavery organizations, including Free the Slaves.
Learn more about removing slavery from your investment portfolio and shopping cart on the Free the Slaves Slavery-Free Commerce webpage.