United States: The Company You Keep – Engagement & Reputational Risk

Seyfarth Synopsis: This is the second in a series of blogs by our Global Modern Slavery Team dealing with how companies can get ahead of the curve of the changing legal landscape addressing business' role and connection to modern slavery.

Many international companies now consider their modern slavery and human rights stance as more of a cultural marker than a legal compliance issue, notwithstanding the growing trend of more onerous legislative obligations in this area. This is for multiple reasons.

  1. Companies are increasingly being evaluated by employees, investors and consumers along ethical lines, in addition to the traditional metrics of prestige, stability and profitability.
  2. They are becoming more cognizant of the reputational impact that can arise from poor human rights practices in the supply chain.
  3. Any company statement on human rights practices – such as safety, employment or the identification and remediation of modern slavery is automatically degraded by association if there is an ethical event in the supply chain.

Employee engagement

With generational shifts in the workplace and the #metoo movement drawing worldwide attention to issues of basic human respect and dignity, younger generations are seeking a way to create impact through their work and those mid- to late-career are increasingly seeking a re-engagement with their work on a deeper, more meaningful level, in part, to "give back".

Socially responsible investing

The idea of "ethical global citizenship" are also resonating with socially responsible investors, who are increasing in numbers as they find ways to align their money with their values. Right now, more than one in every four dollars are being invested using sustainable, responsible or impact investing strategies, according to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. In addition, institutional shareholders are identifying ways to evaluate a company's worth by measuring its actions through the lens of various environment, social and governance (ESG) factors. Granted, assessing a company's social and governance impacts do not easily lend themselves to quantitative measures and there are fundamental questions to answer about this new "sustainability science". But, there is an increasing understanding of the connection between a company's values, the execution of those values in its business operations and its bottom line.

Consumer choice

Finally, consumers are driving accountability by directing their dollars to brands that create a connection with the trilogy of people, profit and planet. According to Edelman's 2018 Earned Brand study, about 64% of consumers, globally, buy on trust. This was a 13% increase over 2017. Edelman named these consumers, "belief-driven buyers", who they noted will "choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on where it stands on the political or social issues they care about." This statistic alone augers well beyond legal compliance as the only driver, to non-legal metrics such as reputation, transparency and accountability.

A new focus on "good" business

All of these trends, coupled with the changing legal landscape we touched on in our first blog in this series, are driving companies to re-evaluate the social impact of how they do business.

A company's interaction with modern slavery typically starts with a consideration of its own operations, and then moves toward some kind of insulation from reputational damage caused by a supply chain event. This is, again, driven by the emerging disclosure and other compliance focused modern slavery laws as well as different industry standards that are developing on how to responsibly source materials and hire employees.

Global companies appear to be falling into two camps. Some commence the internal dialogue about modern slavery as an issue grounded in the company's values, whilst others take a legal compliance approach.

For the former group, there are hard questions to address such as: What are the human rights we prioritize and what does that mean for our business? What is our supply chain? What gaps do we have between our policies and company values? What is the impact we want to create? What are we working towards? What are our auditing procedures and how do we adapt them to address human rights? Delta is an often cited example of a company who trains its workforce on these issues so that they are an active part of identifying and remediating modern slavery. There can be positive reputational benefits for those companies who see the issue as an extension of the corporate value proposition.

A determination of how any business should react to an estimated 46 million men, women and children working in unacceptable circumstances, mostly in the supply chain of legitimate industries around the world is not easy. Some companies feel they should take a stand about it and others feel they should not address it until legally compelled to do so. However, the laws in this area are only one aspect of the moral equation now facing the international business community.

A starting point for action can be with international labor and employment/health and safety or procurement specialists to identify how their industry is addressing its connection to modern slavery. Stay tuned for our next blog: Modern Slavery Internal Accountability and Resource Allocation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions