TRIBE Freedom FoundationThemis Financial Crime Agency and the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner commissioned a research project into modern slavery awareness within the financial sector.

Carried out by Opinium Research, who sampled 1,001 financial service employees, the research revealed that although the majority of the sampled group (87%) placed modern slavery and human trafficking within top 5 concerns of social and environmental issues presented to them, 3 in 10 (31%) did not believe modern slavery is something that occurs in the UK. This was only marginally increased to 39% when considering responses from those of middle manager level or above (amounting to 521 persons).   

However, when asked how important modern slavery and human trafficking (78%) was in a list of issues for the financial services companies, it fell behind to fraud (94%), cyber crime (93%), money laundering (92), and other more ‘traditional’ financial services issues. 

The research also analysed how ‘aware’ employees felt about modern slavery and human trafficking, how aware they were of their organisation having a policy on modern slavery, how well they  understood the policy (where one exists), how confident they felt in identifying signs of modern slavery, their awareness in how to approach reporting suspected modern slavery, and extent of training.  

Employees generally indicated they believed their organisation could do more to improve staff training (78%), improve internal communications and awareness raising (76%) and could do more to help reduce risk of exploitation by supporting customers vulnerable to modern slavery and human trafficking (79%). 

Southwell & Partners provides specialist advice on business and human rights and can advise on implementing human rights compliant policies, conducting due diligence and audits to ensure businesses comply with international regulations. Individuals within the firm can also advise on allegations of fraud, money laundering and financial crime. If you need advice or would like further information please contact us here.  

You can find the full research summary here.

Updated 19/01/2021 

TRIBE Freedom FoundationThemis Financial Crime Agency and the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner have further launched a report titled ‘Preventing Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking: An Agenda for Action across the Financial Services Sector’, which summarises their findings and provides key recommendations.  

The study found that the Modern Slavery Act 2015 has had a limited impact on protecting the lives of those vulnerable to exploitation. In reality, many financial institutions appear to treat the requirements as a “tick box exercise”, doing only the minimum required by law, and others are not even complying with the act at all. 

Some core recommendations contained within the report include:  

  • That modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) elements should be incorporated into existing risk assessments and due diligence processes across the business. At every significant decision point or gateway, MSHT issues should be considered alongside other business critical factors 
  • Companies should map and monitor the direct risks of modern slavery in their day to day activities by performing a risk assessment of staff, suppliers, and business partners 
  • Procurement departments should review recruitment processes of manpower suppliers and ensure the same is carried out across the supply lines of partner organisations.  
  • Companies should prioritise areas of geographical and sector risk across their supply chains for particular monitoring.  
  • Companies should report publicly any cases or suspected cases of MSHT identified in the supply chain, and their intended remedy. 
  • Lenders and investors should engage with companies and demand proof that modern slavery is not present in their supply chains as a pre-condition of any investment or lending terms 
  • Departments working on financial crime should ensure that MSHT considerations are built in as an integral part of any anti-money laundering and terrorism financing control (AML/CFT) framework 

Please find the full report here.