Modern Slavery - Why Businesses Should Put People Before Profit


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Modern Slavery - Why Businesses Should Put People Before Profit

As today marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons I thought it was fitting to highlight the issue of modern slavery.

When I first joined PMP I wanted to develop it into a business that put people at the heart of everything. Our 5 P’s strategy People, Principled, Performance, Productivity and Promotion form the basis of our business focus. Without care and investment in our people, as a business, we have nothing. The health, wellbeing and safety of every colleague are of paramount importance to me and the leadership team.

As soon as I started to understand the high volume recruitment market, I was alarmed and appalled by the global scale of modern slavery, how prevalent it was and how it was something that was impacting workforces across all sectors. This didn’t sit well with me, from a business perspective but also from a personal perspective. I couldn’t sit back and let day-to-day business carry on, knowing that there were people across the country being exploited and mistreated and not do anything about it.

So...I wanted everyone within PMP to become advocates of abolishing modern slavery and to make it their mission to raise awareness and as many funds possible to help victims and survivors of modern slavery.  Our teams and colleagues stretch across the length and breadth of the UK so I decided to utilise this national reach and launched our first initiative with Unseen, a charity that aims to raise awareness of modern slavery and much-needed funds for their safe houses. 

The focus for this initiative was around Random Acts of Kindness Day, a day for spontaneously carrying out a considerate action to improve the life of someone, even if it’s just for a moment. This was something that everyone could get involved with and something that wouldn’t take a great deal of effort but would have a huge impact on the lives of those who had been victims of modern slavery.

So, we launched a national campaign and got our teams to fill as many shoeboxes as possible with essential items for survivors of modern slavery when they first arrive at the shelters.

The response was phenomenal with colleagues, and clients, from across the UK taking part, donating items from toothpaste to woolly hats, hot chocolate to blankets. Altogether almost 400 boxes and bags were collected, with goods equating to approximately £8,000 being hand-delivered to the team at Unseen.

You can find out more by clicking the link below:

PMP Recruitment - Random Acts of Kindness

This campaign ran only for a few weeks however the teams managed to collect enough packs to last the safe houses 4 years!! This is something that we are extremely proud of

So, what is modern slavery?

Modern slavery includes the trafficking of people, forced labour, sexual exploitation, servitude and slavery. Did you know that it is the fastest-growing international crime and is estimated to affect over 40 million victims globally, of which 21 million are victims of forced labour. Unbelievable and quite frankly abhorrent statistics.

This type of crime is a real issue that many people aren’t aware of. Now I don't believe that this is through ignorance, I genuinely believe that is due to a misunderstanding as to what modern slavery is and where it can happen. When we talk about the UK we think that because there are laws in place that set the minimum wage and legislation that outlines what working conditions should be, that a crime such as modern slavery can’t possibly occur here. However, criminals find a way around this and take advantage of vulnerable members of society and exploiting them for their own gain. 

Cordant - Our Social Mission

The Cordant Group is paving the way as a social business and aims to improve society, person by person. Putting people at the heart of everything we do means we can work towards a world without modern slavery and the exploitation of people. Our mission is to see a stronger society. A society united by shared opportunities - where everyone can maximise their own potential, find fulfilment, and live meaningful and sustainable lives.

PMP Recruitment - Our Commitment to Society

For those of you that aren’t aware already, PMP has been working to raise awareness of modern slavery since 2010. We made the decision to adopt a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and commit to making a positive contribution to these through our business strategies. The 8th SDG, Decent Work and Economic Growth, is at the heart of what PMP Recruitment does. We are striving towards a society and economy that benefits from good jobs and people that are free from exploitation.

More recently we established our partnership with award-winning charity Unseen. It was in 2017 that we collaborated with them in order to raise awareness of modern slavery and much-needed funds for their safe houses. 

In 2018 we launched BE SEEN, BE HEARD, a campaign which raises awareness of modern slavery across high volume recruitment and supply chains. The objective is to influence peers to be more responsible, transparent and to tackle modern slavery head-on, whilst supporting Unseen and promoting the modern slavery helpline. 

The results...well they speak for themselves!

  • 29% increase in the number of calls, online reports and app submissions the Helpline received in the months following the campaign launch (August to November 2018), compared to the same time period in the previous year. 
  • Over 2,000 victims of modern slavery were identified through the Helpline during the four months following the Be Seen, Be Heard campaign; over half of them had been trapped in forced labour. 
  • Through fundraising activities, we are proud to have raised £40,000 for Unseen to date. 
  • As a result of our commitment to preventing modern-day slavery and raising awareness of the issue within our workforce, Unseen nominated PMP for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Slavery’ at the 2018 Marsh Awards, and the Be Seen, Be Heard campaign won at 2019 Campaign for Good Awards.
  • The campaign also caught the attention of No.10 and the Home Office - we are now working with ‘BritainThinks’ on an ongoing research project which focuses on modern slavery.

All of our colleagues are passionate about supporting Unseen and making sure that all of our clients are aware of how prevalent modern slavery is and to give them the tools to look after their workforce and spot the signs of modern slavery.

Do you know how to spot the signs? Our video (link below) gives you some behaviours to look out for - some are quite obvious, others are subtle. We are all responsible for looking after vulnerable members of our society.

How to spot the signs of modern slavery

Our clients are making awareness of modern slavery a priority

We encourage our clients to collaborate directly with Unseen and that’s exactly what has happened.

One of our clients recently joined forces with Unseen to trial virtual reality as a method of immersing their colleagues into the heart of the crime - not only inform them but to help them gain a deeper understanding about the realities, thoughts and fears that modern slavery causes. It is fantastic to see the latest technology being taken advantage of to enable people to experience what the victim is subjected to from both a physical and mental perspective, whilst having a 360° view of the environment, people and treatment.

Responsible business - what is one and why does it matter?

It is easy to just see bottom lines, figures on spreadsheets and percentage margins however the real story behind all this data and is people on the front line being taken advantage and forced into a life of slavery. This is why every business should be a responsible one.

What is a responsible business?

Well this can relate to a number of things and there are a number of definitions, however, I have created my own…

“A responsible business is one that believes in prosperity for all and works alongside the ideology that business and society are inexplicably linked. By acting responsibly, businesses can have a positive effect on society, the environment and the economy and by having these at the heart of every strategy, businesses can strive for improvements in these areas, over profitability.

I believe that every business should be a responsible one. There is not one business that doesn’t interact with society, the environment or the economy. In the context of modern slavery, and our impact on society, I feel like this definition may apply to recruitment businesses more than any other. When businesses supply labour, especially high volume, there is an increased risk of people becoming victims of modern slavery. We need to take a united approach to stop this crime from happening to ensure that everyone is able to take advantage of a good job and be free from exploitation and criminal activity.

So, let me ask you this, are you a responsible business with a responsible supply chain?

JR