27 JUNE 2019, SYDNEY – As Australian companies prepare to tackle modern slavery risks in their supply chains, Thai Union’s Global Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Dr. Darian McBain, has shared insights into the significant challenges in confronting this issue.
Addressing a conference in Sydney on “implementing Australia’s Modern Slavery Act – Knowing Your Supply Chain”, McBain said that businesses must work together with governments, civil society and other companies because no one company can solve the problem of modern slavery alone.
“While companies can pursue and implement a robust sustainability policy, it’s only by taking a collaborative approach and working with multiple stakeholders – plus some fierce determination – that genuine change can truly be made,” McBain told the conference, which was hosted by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
The conference was attended by Australian government officials, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton and other global companies including Apple, IKEA, Nestle, Hilton and adidas. The first conference of its kind in Australia, it was designed to help Australian businesses to assess and address the risks of modern slavery in their own supply chains and operations, and to comply with the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018.
When discussing the pressure that Thailand was under in 2015 to address human rights abuses in the seafood industry, McBain commented that, “However, while this was an incredibly challenging environment, I took the view that this was an opportunity; an opportunity to drive positive change across the global fishing industry, and I wanted Thai Union to be the leading agent of that change,” McBain said. “And what has been critical throughout this process has been putting worker voices at the heart of combating modern slavery and forced labor, so that we know that real change is taking place.”
McBain said Thai Union introduced its sustainability strategy, SeaChange®, which drives change within the company but also contributes to broader societal change by helping the world meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“Positioning sustainability at the heart of the business was not only the right thing to do both ethically and morally, but also the right thing to do for the future of the Thai Union business,” McBain said.