Tomorrow might mark the official start of Black Friday but big name retailers have started early this year with some particularly impressive offers on lighting, sofas and everything you need for a full interior makeover.
It’s no coincidence Black Friday comes just in time for the holidays and can provide an excellent opportunity to dress up your home however much you like. Debenhams is having a 50 % off lighting sale for today only, November 22, and we’ve highlighted some fantastic finds below. Other brands like Andrew Martin and department stores including John Lewis are promising discounts of up to 75% across a wide variety of its furniture, home accessories, lighting and everything you need to make your space that extra bit homely.
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal days are the ideal time to stock up on those big-ticket items that you need.
In the lead up to the big sales day, we have gathered the best deals out there so you can plan out your purchases and prevent that last minute panicking buying.
As new deals are released, we will be constantly updating this list to ensure all the best deals are included.
Get ready to shop…
Furniture and Lighting
If your sofa looks or feels a bit worse for wear or you have had the same table lamp since uni and are finally ready for a change, Black Friday offers the perfect excuse to invest in your interior with a range of furniture in every form. Bring new light and life to your space by taking advantage of the impressive discounts that will make updating your space more cost effective. The biggest retailers are going all out with impressive discounts across its range of furniture and lighting, see the best below.
Debenhams *Lighting deal of the day
Take a whopping 50% lighting at Debenhams for today November 22 only. This is certainly one of the best lighting sales around for Black Friday 2018 with an impressive 200+ lighting products offered at half off. A variety of designer options are on offer as well, like the flamingo table lamp by Matthew Williamson reduced to just £42.50. If you don’t have the budget to splash out on a new sofa or table, there’s no better or more practical piece of home decor to spruce up your space than a great lamp. Sale ends tonight.
IT organisations in the UK and across Europe are starting to accelerate the move to the cloud. Read more about the key areas in which senior IT managers are planning to invest in over the next 12 months.
The business banking service will be a standalone business that will also offer small businesses payroll and pensions, according to a Sunday Times report.
A spokesman for Santander told the newspaper: “We are working on a project to build an open digital financial services platform for SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises]. We look forward to sharing more about the platform soon.”
Traditional banks are devising strategies to fend off competition from a new generation of banks that are fuelled by the latest technology to reduce operating costs and provide customers with a high level of service anytime and anywhere via computing devices, particularly mobile.
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is a good example. According to reports, RBS is spending tens of millions on a potential digital bank that will be run separately from its existing business.
Virgin bank, already classed as a challenger bank, has spent more than £38m on setting up a digital bank to target a broader segment of the financial services market in the UK.
It said a platform underpinning the new bank will harness data to offer customers personalised accounts.
Meanwhile, in France BCPE, another traditional mainstream bank has taken a similar path, but has acquired an established digital challenger rather than build one from scratch. BCPE acquired German challenger Fidor, which was set up in 2009 and gained a UK banking licence in 2015.Banks have been watching the fintech industry grow, and many are partnering with fintechs and even taking stakes in them. Some have startup programmes, in which they help fintech startups to develop their products.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of Rs 6,800 crore strategic Zojila tunnel, Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel, two Ring Roads-one each in Jammu and Srinagar, Pakal Dul in Kishtwar and inaugurate Kishanganga hydro-electric projects and Tarakote Marg from Katra to Adh-Kunwari during his day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir. He will also address SKUAST-J convention.
Accompanied by Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, the Prime Minister will cover all three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh during his visit. Minister of State for Power (Independent Charge) RK Singh will join the Prime Minister in Srinagar.
Dr Jitendra Singh said: “despite just one-day visit, the Prime Minister has fulfilled his commitment of regional balance and equitable development of all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh by covering all three regions during the visit”.
Security has been beefed up in Jammu ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit.
The Prime Minister will directly reach Leh where he would lay foundation stone of Zojila tunnel and address culmination programme of Kushok Bakula’s centenary celebrations. At SKICC Srinagar, he would inaugurate Kishanganga power project and lay foundation stone of Ring Road. Then he would reach Jammu and address SKUAST-J convention. Later, he will lay foundation stone of Pakal Dul hydro-electric power project in Kishtwar and Jammu Ring Road and inaugurate Tarakote Marg from Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu University. Pakal Dul HE project is 1000 MW and is being constructed on river Marusudar, a tributary of river Chenab in Kishtwar district.
The Ring Road projects in Srinagar and Jammu will cost nearly Rs 3,884 crore.
The Zojila tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh as this route remains snow-bound for a large part of the year, and is ravaged by frequent avalanches.
It will also cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes, besides making the drive much safer and convenient, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.
It said Modi will attend “the commencement of work on Zojila Tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway at an event in Jive-tsal in Leh tomorrow”.
“He will also lay the foundation stone for Srinagar Ring Road and Jammu Ring Road at separate events at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC), Srinagar and at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu the same day,” it said.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister had approved the construction, operation and maintenance of this 2-lane bi-directional tunnel with Parallel Escape (Egress) tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of NH-1A at a total cost of Rs 6,800 crore earlier this year.
The Government said the construction of this tunnel will provide much relief to the people in the region. Due to heavy snowfall and frequent avalanches, road connection to places in the Ladakh region get disrupted for long periods, preventing even essential supplies from reaching people, shutting down businesses, affecting healthcare and education.
“The construction of the tunnel is expected to bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions. In addition to direct jobs generated during construction, it will also lead to massive indirect and spinoff jobs due to acceleration of economic growth,” the statement said.
It added that the government is committed to development of manpower skilled for tunneling jobs in J&K. The project has strategic and socio-economic importance, and will be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in J&K.
The Government said the Zojila tunnel has been planned as a smart tunnel which will have latest safety features like fully transverse ventilation system, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), Tunnel Emergency Lighting, CCTV Monitoring, Variable Message Signs (VMS), Traffic Logging Equipment, Over Height Vehicle Detection, Tunnel Radio System, etc.
It will have pedestrian cross passages at every 250 meter and motorable cross passages and lay-bys at every 750 meter, the statement said, adding that it will have emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets at every 125 meter.
The Ring Roads at Srinagar and Jammu are aimed at reducing traffic congestion at these cities and making road travel safer, faster, more convenient and more environment friendly, the statement said.
The 42.1 Km, 4 lane Srinagar Ring Road will link Galandar in West Srinagar to Sumbal. Being built at a cost of Rs 1,860 crore, this road will provide a new route from Srinagar to Kargil and Leh, and reduce travel time, it said, adding that there will be a major bridge, three flyovers, 23 tunnels and 2 via-ducts on this route.
“The 58.25 km, 4-lane Jammu Ring Road, being built at a cost of Rs 2,023.87 crore, will link Jagati (western Jammu) to Raya Morh. There will be 8 large bridges, 6 flyovers, 2 tunnels and 4 via ducts on this route,” it said.
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Srinagar the security has been put on high alert in Srinagar and authorities sealed the Boulevard road leading to SKICC where the function is to be held.
Authorities amid a thick security blanket sealed the Dalgate-Nishat main road today in view of Prime Minister’s visit. The traffic was diverted today for the security of the PM visit. The diversion of the traffic today resulted in traffic mess at various places including the Foreshore road, Hazratbal, Dalgate and other areas.
The security has been further beefed up after militants last evening decamped with three service rifles from a police post in Dalgate area of Srinagar which is few kilometers from the venue of PM’s function.
And authorities have decided to impose restrictions in Srinagar parts including Old City on Saturday as a precautionary measure.
Restrictions within the territorial jurisdictions of Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal, MR Gunj, Nishat and partially in Maisuma and Kralkhud police stations Srinagar will remain in force tomorrow.
The class work in all schools and colleges in Srinagar will also remain suspended tomorrow.
And in view of the visit of the PM visit, the Traffic Police City Srinagar has formulated route plan so that commuters travelling on the routes would not face any inconvenience.
As per the traffic plan, no traffic shall be allowed to ply from Badyari Chowk to Nishat via Boulevard and similarly no traffic shall be allowed to ply from Ram Munshi Bagh towards Grand Palace and Nishat via Gupkar.
Commuters travelling from Harwan, Shalimar, Nishat and adjacent areas towards Lal Chowk are requested to travel via Foreshore Road & Hazratbal.
Further, the commuters travelling from Dalgate, Lal Chowk and adjacent areas towards Harwan, Shalimar, Nishat shall adopt Nowpora, Khayam, Rainawari to reach their respective destinations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday dedicated the state run NHPC Ltd’s Kishanganga hydro power project in Jammu and Kashmir to the nation.
The development assumes significance given the strategic importance of the 330 megawatt (MW) project on the river Kishanganga, a tributary of Jhelum. While Pakistan had challenged the project under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled in India’s favour in 2013.
The Jhelum originates in India and flows into Pakistan, and according to the Indus Water Treaty, whoever builds the project first will have the first rights on the river water.
Jammu and Kashmir will not only get free but also sufficient power, PM Modi said in a tweet.
The project in Bandipora district will provide 13% free power to the state including 1% for local area development fund amounting to around Rs133 crore per year.
This come at a time when the projects in Jammu and Kashmir are being expedited in the backdrop of China developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of its showpiece “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) infrastructure initiative.
This project is ready to add a new dimension in the growth journey of Jammu and Kashmir, added Modi in another tweet.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has stepped up efforts to develop the infrastructure architecture for the state which has witnessed an unprecedented cycle of violence in recent years. These projects include developing roads totaling 683.31 km in length, with an investment of Rs10,204.45 crore, constructing the marquee 14-km-long Zojila tunnel and the 6.5-km Z-Morh tunnel on Srinagar-Kargil road.
“Jammu and Kashmir is going to get development projects worth Rs25,000 crore. These projects will have a positive impact on the people of the state,” Modi said in another tweet.
The delayed Kishanganga project involved the diversion of the Kishanganga river, into an underground powerhouse near Bandipur and the discharge of the water into the Wular lake. Also, a 37 metre high concrete dam was constructed in Gurez valley of Bandipora. The projects’ total cost is estimated to be Rs5,882 crore, with the construction work at the project site started in 2009. The construction work was made difficult due to the higher risk associated with the project due to difficult geology and its proximity to the border with Pakistan.
The Indus Waters Treaty regulates the use of Indus river waters by India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s argument was that the Indian project would affect the Neelum-Jhelum project constructed by Pakistan downstream of the Kishanganga project. While Pakistan had questioned the “legality of the construction and operation of an Indian hydro-electric project” under the treaty, India has maintained that building the dam is within its rights.
India has also been critical of China developing the CPEC, cutting through Gilgit and Baltistan areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). OBOR, first unveiled by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to put billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Sterlite Power is planning an investment of $4 billion by 2022 in power projects in Brazil where it has won orders last year to build transmission lines, the company said on Saturday.
Sterlite Group Chief Executive Pratik Agarwalsaid in a statement that the company is looking to grow rapidly in the country and establish its headquarters in Sao Paulo as a base for future expansion.
“We have already committed ourselves to $1 billion (in projects). And we are open to expanding this in three to four times over the next three to four years,” he said. In this direction, Sterlite has already structured a local team and is currently looking for an experienced executive to take command of Brazilian operations to lead an expansion that may pass in the short or medium term to other countries.
“Sao Paulo will be our headquarters in Latin America to look beyond Brazil,” Agarwal said.
In this regard, he cited Argentina, Chile, Mexico and possibly Peru as potential countries of interest, and pointed out that the push to these markets could take place over a period of 1-3 years.
Besides participating in government auctions for new projects, Sterlite will also evaluate possible acquisitions as part of its strategy in Brazil, the Chief Executive said.
In its first bid in Brazil in April, Sterlite took out a broadcast concession with a discount of 58.9 per cent over the government’s maximum allowable revenue for the project.
The company also took one more project at the same auction and a third at another in December, where it bagged the largest project on offer.
The construction of these lines already sold will require about $1 billion, the statement said.
According to Agarwal, the company’s strategy is to have a good return even after the high discounts through intensive use of technology, good planning of works and advance delivery of the lines, which help generate additional revenue.
The company has already secured funding and all environmental licenses for one of its three projects and there is great confidence in being able to deliver them in advance, it added.
Sundays are often a work day for teachers. It’s the last day available to make preparations for the coming week of school. Some teachers are at their school pulling materials together. Others are planning, making copies or rearranging their classrooms.
And yet, sometimes life pulls people, even teachers, in a different direction. That’s why on a recent Sunday afternoon, 23 teachers from Putnam City’s Arbor Grove Elementary School (and 20 more spouses, children and other members of their families) worked out of a warehouse and busily went about their task: Loading a truck with beds, furniture, pots and pans, dishes, towels and everything else necessary to help a family start a new and better phase in life.
The Arbor Grove teachers are volunteers for a nonprofit organization known as “Focus on Home.” The organization supports families in need by providing donated furniture and household necessities. It’s practical, necessary help for families transitioning out of homelessness or families remade after substance abuse, tragedy, loss or other troubles.
While the help Focus on Home provides might seem to be about furniture and other goods, the real meaning is much more than that. When an apartment or a house with no more than a mattress or a chair is in one afternoon transformed into a full-fledged, fully furnished home, family life is no longer dominated by stress, struggle and scraping by. Instead, time, energy and resources can be refocused by families on being comfortable in the home and creating their best possible future.
How it works
Helping families is a process. Focus on Homes’ director, Joli Sanders, identifies families in need by working with local organizations and agencies such as YWCA, the Department of Human Services, Homeless Alliance, ReMerge, Positive Tomorrows, Hope House, Red Rock Behavioral Health Services and NorthCare. Caseworkers submit applications on behalf of the families they are working with and who are ready for the kind of help Focus on Home provides.
Four families are selected each month to receive help. Sanders meets with the families in their homes to create a plan for furniture based on families’ needs. The majority of items that go to families are donated, gently used items from the Focus on Home warehouse. Each family also receives some new items that fill in gaps in donations.
Typically the second Sunday of each month, Focus on Home volunteers meet at the warehouse to help select and load furniture and accessories for each family receiving furniture that day. A team leader directs them in the hourlong chore of loading the truck, and once that’s done, team members head to the house or apartment they will be delivering to.
When the truck arrives, beds, couches, chairs and other needed items are unloaded, and anything that needs assembly is put together. When volunteers leave, the family is equipped to live in and use their home.
Making a difference for children
Arbor Grove teachers and members of their families have volunteered for Focus on Home on several Sundays. Teachers from Putnam City’s Coronado Heights Elementary, Wiley Post Elementary and Windsor Hills Elementary have also volunteered their time. What keeps bringing teachers out to help?
“There are always kids,” says Arbor Grove principal Brenda Davis. “As educators, we know how important this is. We know what a difference it makes to a child to come to school having had a good night’s sleep in a bed that is their own, and go home to a comfortable home that they feel good about.”
For Arbor Grove kindergarten teacher Erin Camp, it’s personal.
“Having little to nothing and just starting out as a single mom is close to my heart. I had people step up and help me during my time of need. It feels great to give back,” Camp said.
Marquita Vann, a fifth-grade teacher at Arbor Grove, is also involved as a way to give back.
“I volunteered because I was intrigued by the idea and the process of helping people with their homes. I have been looking for ways that my daughters and I could give back to our community and this sounded like a perfect fit for us. The first time we went was amazing, and my daughters and I can’t wait to help again,” she said.
Paul Kelley’s Magnetic Copper Cube series that won the Jonathan Hindle Prize for Excellence
Every year, the Design Guild Marks (now in its 10th edition) celebrate the excellent craft, creativity and ingeniousness which lie at the heart of the British furniture industry. This year’s awards honour 12 designs representing both the domestic and contract furniture market, and both new creative ideas as well as design classics.
‘It is very interesting to meet the very passionate designers and their product, ranging from domestic seating through to complex desk systems, presented to the judging panel,’ says the award chairman Rodney McMahon, head of a jury which included Twentytwentyone’s Simon Alderson, designers Terence Woodgate and Rodney Kinsman and journalist Barbara Chandler amongst others.
‘The quality and diversity of the applicants provided for a wholly stimulating range of presentations,’ adds Alderson. ‘It was interesting to consider the longevity of historic designs alongside the contemporary. The enduring quality of good design demands careful consideration of materials, process and form.’ The variety of styles and periods is evident throughout the dozen Marks, which range from classics such as Ernest Race’s Antelope chair to new designs, namely Philippe Malouin’s Group seating for SCP and Benjamin Hubert’s chair for Allermuir.
For the Jonathan Hindle Prize for Excellence, the jury chose the work of designer-maker Paul Kelley: from his South London workshop, Kelley created a furniture system based on a magnetic copper cube, which can be arranged in geometric compositions to create furniture and accessories around the home. ‘The standard in design, thinking and making of this year’s Design Guild Mark was not only hugely inspiring, but left me feeling proud of our British furniture industry,’ said Sebastian Conran Associates creative director Tom Pearce, a thought echoed by most of the jury members. ‘Design for me is a mix of art & technology,’ added Woodgate. ‘And we certainly experienced designs at both ends of the spectrum.’
Left, Race Antelope Chair, designed by Ernest Race for Race Furniture Limited in 1951. Right, the Mozaik series of seating, by Mark Gabbertas, for Allermuir
The AXYL chair, by Benjamin Hubert, for Allermuir
Aphelion Console, by Byron and Gómez, for Benchmark
T1 Chairm, by Rodney Kinsman, for his brand OMK, 1965
Manta sofa by Lyndon Boss Design
An armchair from Philippe Malouin’s Group collection, designed for SCP
The Famiglia range, by PearsonLloyd, for Allermuir
The Edge desk, by PearsonLloyd, for Modus Furniture
Foster+Partners has launched a collection of solid wood furniture that is designed to be passed down through generations.
The OVO range, which is being shown at Clerkenwell Design Week between 22 and 24 May, has been designed to be durable so that the pieces can be used for many years.
Made in collaboration with furniture manufacturer Benchmark, the collection features two variants of a dining table, a sideboard, shelving unit, high table, coffee table, stool and benches.
“Working closely with the craftspeople at Benchmark, we have created a unique range of solid wood furniture that embodies a sense of warmth and generosity,” said Mike Holland, Head of Industrial Design at Foster + Partners.
“[It] has an inherent sense of longevity that will allow each piece to gather memories and meaning through successive generations.”
“The range celebrates the age-old tradition of craftsmanship in everyday objects, combining durability and careful detailing with a strong materiality to create a range of furniture that is exceptionally tactile and generous,” explained the brand.
The first piece in the collection is a dining table, which has a rectangular tabletop with visible joints and four legs that slope outwards. It has a natural finish and is available in two heights.
It is accompanied by a set of long rectangular benches that have a minimalist design and visible joints, like the dining table.
The shelving unit is 1.9 meters long and is supported by cylindrical wooden rods.
“A unique system of connection between the supports allows for multiple shelves to be stacked one on top of the other – from a simple low pair to a maximum of five shelves,” said the brand.
Meanwhile, the sideboard has a rectangular structure with circular recessed handle details. It is available in either with either six or four doors.
Other pieces in the collection include a round dining table, side table and coffee table.
“The soft geometry of the OVO range not only imbues the pieces with a quiet solidity but also serves as a compelling invitation to touch, while the boldness and simplicity of its form demand perfection of execution of the craft,” said Holland.
Better known for its architectural projects, Foster + Partners ranked 9th in the latest Dezeen Hot List, and is currently constructing new headquarters for robotics company DJI in the city of Shenzhen and completing a hotel in Hong Kong inside former government headquarters.
The practice is also working on a number of design projects, including a chair that facilitates focused work in public spaces and a tabletop light with a candle-like glow.
Eyeing a pie: Flipkart may face stiff competition from the likes of Amazon and Pepperfry. | Photo Credit: tonioyumui
‘FurniSure certification will assure buyers of ‘quality and durability’
Flipkart said it has introduced ‘FurniSure,’ a certification that assures customers ‘quality and durability’ of furniture available on the e-tailer’s website.
It added that this was a first-of-its-kind certification for furniture in Indian retail industry. The products that get certified would be available at the ‘FurniSure’ store on Flipkart.
“We think [ this] will disrupt the industry because customers [buying furniture] offline as well as online are all unsure of the quality,” said Nandita Sinha, senior director and head of furniture category of Flipkart, in an interview. “If you buy electronics or a shirt online, it is a seamless experience. So, we built a tech-enabled platform which could help in the seamless warehousing of the product, delivery [and] installation,” she said.
The company said the durability certification was offered after a rigorous testing process conducted through National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories-accredited testing laboratories, including Intertek and Bureau Veritas.
Each certified product undergoes tests that simulate 10 years of normal usage as per international standards, said the company.
India’s furniture market is projected to cross $32 billion by 2019, according to a TechSci Research report. But Flipkart would be facing stiff competition not only from Amazon but also specialised players such as Urban Ladder, Pepperfry and Swedish furniture retailer Ikea.
“The kind of scale that we have… is not available with the vertical players,” she said. “For example, today we have the largest warehousing space in the country versus horizontal, vertical and offline players. In two months, we will be the biggest retailer of furniture, that’s the ambition and we are on our way to do that.”
Flipkart said over 250 furniture selections including beds, sofas, wardrobes and TV units from top sellers and its private label, ‘Perfect Homes’ have already been certified. By the end of 2018, 60% of furniture products on Flipkart will be durability certified.
Flipkart re-launched furniture in Q3 2017. It is delivering the products using solutions such as quick delivery and 72-hour installation through its group company Jeeves easy returns, and warranty up to five years, said the company.
Modern slavery includes human trafficking, servitude and forced labour, and tens of millions of people around the world are thought to be affected. It affects people in both developing countries and developed countries, including the UK.
Businesses can play a major role in either facilitating modern slavery or eradicating it. Yet firms are addressing modern slavery in their supply chains in many different ways, and the ways in which they report on their activity is sometimes vague and not particularly helpful. That’s the main finding from our new research into modern slavery business reporting in response to recent UK legislation.
Awareness of the problem of modern slavery led to the passing of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015. The law requires businesses that supply goods or services with a turnover in excess of £36m to issue an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. This should outline the steps taken to ensure slavery is not occurring in any part of the business and, importantly, supply chain where it is harder to track if workers are trafficked or trapped into working in poor conditions.
The emphasis on the supply chain raises the stakes for organisations substantially. Their statements have to be made publicly available and be approved by the organisation’s leaders.
There are no fixed requirements for what must be included. But it has been suggested that the statement include details of the organisation’s structure; its policies on slavery and human trafficking; due diligence processes; the parts of its supply chain that are vulnerable and the steps taken to manage this risk; an assessment of the effectiveness of actions taken; and, details of training offered on modern slavery and human trafficking.
Companies have a great deal of freedom to decide what they say and do not say about modern slavery. This means there remains a vagueness surrounding the information they disclose.
What we found
We analysed the latest modern slavery statements released by 101 firms in the clothing and textiles sector. This is an industry with supply chains all over the world, high labour intensity, and one that has experienced major problems with the way it conducts its business in recent years. The industry is particularly susceptible to modern slavery due to the number of low-skilled jobs involved and this is compounded by the demand for fast, cheap fashion.
For most companies we looked at, this was the first statement they had released since the 2015 Modern Slavery Act came into effect. Overall, we found a limited number of fairly standard detection and remediation practices, mainly aimed at first-tier suppliers. The most common detection practice is to conduct an audit against a company code of conduct.
Nike, for example, publishes a code of conduct that its suppliers are expected to follow, alongside its global supplier list. Audits are carried out against the code of conduct, which requires a “respected, safe, fair and sustainable” working environment. Online retailer Asos, meanwhile, provides detailed action plans of their remediation techniques for modern slavery issues such as migrant, refugee, child and contract workers.
The most common response to the discovery that a supplier is not meeting a buyer’s expectations is to put a plan in place to remedy this. A series of corrective actions are agreed, planned over a reasonable timeframe, supported by the buyer and overseen by regular follow-up audits. For example, an investment into the equipment workers are using may be agreed upon.
In reality, this is not as good a solution for modern slavery as it is for other, often more minor social issues. Issues like blocked fire exits or poor chemical safety are easy for companies to identify and their suppliers to fix – without causing too much of a public relations headache (unless they are only identified in the aftermath of a major disaster).
But something as criminal and deliberate as forced labour makes it hard for buyers to act in any other way than reporting it to the appropriate authorities and cracking down on it. So the intangible element of how workers are treated, which can be difficult to evaluate, may offer greater temptation for the supplier (or their supplier) to hide violations.
Buyers cannot easily support or allow for solutions to modern slavery discoveries without admitting fault – as any response other than reporting it to the appropriate authorities could be interpreted as being complicit in criminal activity.
There was substantial diversity in the statements we analysed. This reflects the newness of the legislation and it’s likely that responses will become more standardised over time, as expectations develop.
Only 62% of the 101 statements we looked at had been formally signed by the board of directors – despite this being a requirement of the legislation. This draws into question whether the legislation has elevated modern slavery from the procurement department to the boardroom. It also challenges the idea that a firm’s disclosure strategy is in line with its overall corporate strategy.
Another issue we found was that firms refer to future plans or achievements that related to other social or even environmental issues like reducing their water use, possibly as a distraction tactic – to divert attention away from how little they have done, in some cases, about modern slavery so far.
For detection practices to be rolled out across global supply chains, firms may need to work together to have a greater say with suppliers and law enforcers. Or they may need to mobilise vulnerable workers to their raise concerns – a form of whistleblowing.
Companies must also examine what part they may play in encouraging modern slavery, such as by driving down supplier prices or demanding ever-quicker production. These practices play a big role in pushing suppliers to pursue cheap labour solutions and illicit subcontracting.