We may not see forced labor explicitly in our day-to-day lives, but that illusion hides the reality that an estimated 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally, according to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO). Of the 20.9 million people exploited globally, 18.7 million, or 90 percent, “are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises,” the ILO reports. It is in this exploitation where we can be most culpable.
Supply chains for products are hard to keep track of, and if companies aren’t investing time, money, and energy in ensuring a clean supply chain, our consumerism continues to support labor exploitation. Know the Chain, a non-profit organization, aims to be “a resource to promote greater transparency and dialogue around issues of slavery in supply chains.”
While companies are being asked to do their share, we can do ours by examining what we use and how much that can contribute to forced labor practices. Slavery Footprint allows users to take a short quiz about their lifestyle (what they wear, eat, etc.) and calculates based on that information, how many slaves work for that individual. You can take the quiz online or use their mobile app.
As much as eradicating slavery rests with institutions — governments that enforce their laws, corporations that check their supply chains — part of the onus lies on us. Our demand for products and services drives the supply and if we demand cleaner supply chains, fair and humane treatment of individuals, and understand that the cost may be a few extra dollars compared to a life lived in servitude, we may make a difference.
Learn more at Mehroz Baig’s Huffington Post article: What’s Your Slavery Footprint? There’s an App for That.