The International Labour Organisation currently estimates that 16 million people are exploited by individuals and business entities in the private economy. Industries with the highest prevalence are the domestic work, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors. Total illegal profits from modern slavery in the private economy is estimated at US 51.2 billion per year.
With globalisation and increasing international procurement, supply chain management has changed dramatically over the last three decades. Vertical integration within a single organisation is now rare – it is hard to find an organisation of any size that produces its entire product without external suppliers.
The global supply chain is fragmented, culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Tiers of suppliers within the supply chain are rife with anonymous subcontractors and sub-sub-contractors that rely on agents and are not managed within the system. Their operating conditions are generally invisible to the purchasing entity.
This invisibility means many products are at high risk of being produced by modern slavery particularly at the lower tier levels of production in the supply chain.