(Adds details on how the award was decided para 10)
By Paola Totaro
LONDON, Dec 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Two
multi-national tech companies previously questioned over labour
and workforce conditions have won a new global award for turning
the spotlight onto their own supply chains to eradicate modern
day slavery from their operations.
The inaugural Thomson Reuters Foundation Stop Slavery Award
was conferred on U.S. technology company Hewlett Packard
Enterprise and NXP Semiconductors, the world's
largest chip supplier to the automotive industry.
The award, designed by Turner Prize winning sculptor Anish
Kapoor, aims to recognise businesses that submit their labour
practices to scrutiny and excel in efforts to investigate human
rights abuses and clean up their supply chain.
The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 10 companies
employing thousands of people in sectors ranging from
electronics to retail to mining and included Apple,
Tesco and global seafood producer Thai Union.
"As some of the biggest companies in the world, we have a
particular responsibility to eradicate forced labour from our
supply chains," Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman said
in a video message as the award was announced late Wednesday at
Trust Women, an annual trafficking and women's rights
"I believe we need a combination of teamwork between
individual corporations, governments, investors and other
stakeholders to tackle the root causes of forced labour.
Together I know we can."
The award to Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for transparency
and response to challenge, recognised the company's commitment
to seek expert input to scrutinize its supply chains and to
share this information.
In 2011 Hewlett Packard, which has a workforce of about
315,000, recognised a growing risk for forced labour among
foreign migrant workers, particularly in Southeast Asia, so
hosted a series of anti-trafficking workshops with suppliers and
labour agencies in the region.
Organisers of the award said it was interesting that all of
the short-listed companies had received media attention
highlighting modern slavery risks related to their business
operations or supply chains.
The short-list was selected after companies completed a
detailed questionnaire, designed in partnership with human
rights specialists at multi-national law firm Baker & McKenzie,
giving significant detail of their operations.
The criteria were developed using a combination of existing
standards, including the UK Modern Slavery Act and the
California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, as well as other
global best practice standards.
An independent specialist assessed the company submissions
on the strength of anti-trafficking policies already in place as
well as their ability to identify and respond to problems.
Judges chose Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors, which
employs 45,000 people in 35 countries, to win the award for
policy and implementation, largely due to its robust internal
practices and programmes.
NXP's Chief Executive Richard Clemmer said the company's
anti-slavery work began five years ago when a customer helped
uncover evidence that recruitment companies were charging fees
or holding families hostage for money to secure jobs at NXP.
"These were issues different to what the term 'slavery'
usually means to people but we were able to eradicate it," he
told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The company established an accountability system which
requires its board of directors and CEO to sign off on all human
trafficking policies and activities and this is backed up by
global training protocols.
It also identifies vulnerable worker populations and
conducts targeted training. In 2016, they retrained over 300
suppliers in Malaysia.
"This is the way we ensure we are good global citizens and
that anyone we do business with follows the same high standards
that we do," Clemmer said.
"We have a complete team that goes out to audit and train
procurement organisations to establish the right principles and
processes with suppliers. We train so that working conditions
are safe and healthy."
(Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith;
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