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UL-STR’s 7th Annual Responsible Sourcing Summit

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Feb 29

In February, Vice President of Compliance Avedis Seferian headed to Los Angeles for the 7th Annual UL-Responsible Sourcing's Responsible Sourcing Summit.

The day-long event featured six panels on issues related to corporate social responsibility in the sourcing industry, such as human trafficking, slavery, anti-corruption and migrant workers in the global supply chain. Senior executives from both non-profit organizations, industry bodies like the American Apparel & Footwear Association and major corporations including Target, Eileen Fisher, Yahoo! and Coca Cola.

Seferian found the first session, “The Moment of Truth: Can John Ruggie’s Human Rights Guiding Principles Spring to Life?,” very interesting. Ruggie, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, developed a series of guiding principles for businesses and human rights known as “Protect, Respect and Remedy.” The guiding principles detail what steps should be taken to foster business respect for human rights, lay out a blueprint for companies to know and show that they respect human rights, and reduce the risk of causing human rights infractions; and constitute a set of standards for stakeholders to assess business’ respect for human rights. The panel focused on how businesses in attendance can bring these principles into practice.

The second panel, “In the Trenches: A Look at How Innovative Companies are Tackling Slavery and Human Trafficking,” covered an issue close to WRAP’s mission. Our second principle, prohibition of forced labor, was recently updated to read “Facilities will not use involuntary, forced or trafficked labor,” to reflect in writing the importance of preventing trafficked labor, a goal our auditors have been working to prevent since our organization’s inception. The WRAP staff is pleased to see the increasing awareness of trafficking and slavery issues in supply chains and efforts by brands and corporations to prevent these unethical practices.

Also important to the mission of our organization is the rights of migrant workers, which was covered in the fourth panel.

Looking back at the conference, Seferian remarked, “It’s always good to see big names like Coca-Cola and Target lending their voices to such issues that are close to WRAP’s heart.”
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