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Woolworths, Wesfarmers rank high in modern slavery reporting investigation

A number of retailers have been analysed as part of a wide investigation into the quality of information given up in the first annual modern slavery statements reported to the ASX, with Woolworths coming out on top of the 100 companies ranked.

The investigation, carried out by Monash Centre for Financial Studies, found that there was a wide variation in the information given as part of these statements, and that the most common risks identified were forced labour, child labour and debt bondage.

“It’s important to note that this is the first year that ASX companies have had to report on modern slavery and based on our findings we expect that the majority of these companies will take action and improve their disclosure quality in the next financial year,” lead researcher Dr Nga Pham said.

While Woolworths took out the top spot, it wasn’t the only retail company on the list, joined by Wesfarmers at 3, Coles at 13, Vicinity Centres at 15, Mirvac at 16, Scentre at 17, JB Hi-Fi at 32, and Domino’s Pizza at 58.

The report also outlined key recommendations for the reporting process in the year ahead, such as ensuring the scoping of risks should be clear and done in respect of specific risks, describing how the business assess the effectiveness of its modern slavery risk management efforts, identifying who is responsible for these changes, engaging with and educating suppliers, and focusing on areas of potential influence, rather than areas of general concern.

“We’ve presented these findings in a way which allows investors to identify priorities in engaging with their portfolio of companies in a transparent and open manner,” Dr Pham said.

“This means that investors can communicate the possible areas of concern and modern slavery risks relevant to each company or each sector [and] can help companies to enhance their due diligence and remediation processes, while also ensuring the board has oversight of modern slavery and human rights risks.”

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