Mark Solon, Solicitor and Chairman of Wilmington Legal, quizzes Wilmington's Group HR Director Tony Bainbridge on the company’s implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015
Mark: Can you tell us a little about the Act?
Tony: It’s an Act that came into force in March 2017 and provides enhanced protection for victims of slavery. It requires businesses with a turnover above £36million per year to ensure transparency in supply chains and other procedures.
Mark: Why on earth would Wilmington as a business for professionals have any need to consider slavery?
Tony: Although the risk is indeed low, we are committed to ensure we fully comply with the Act. You should never just assume, because slavery can take different forms. Whilst we are very much a business for professionals, there are always areas where we should be looking to raise our game, as any business should. Most importantly it’s the way that we treat our people, and the way our affiliates and partners treat theirs. Our supply chains need to be robust and we can use the process of compliance as an opportunity to have a deeper dialogue with our suppliers on their working practices.
Mark: How did you and your team ensure there was compliance with the Act?
Tony: The compliance requirements are well publicised and there are a number of places to research them. Key requirements are to ensure that there is a statement which is approved by our Board and which is placed prominently on our website, that we review our working practices every year and that we also make our best efforts to understand how our suppliers are also complying with both the spirit and the wording of the Act. Government websites are helpful for this, and Wilmington businesses and other organisations also provide useful guidance.
Mark: One of the requirements is training. Have you been rolling that out across the business?
Tony: Well we already have our compliance training which we deliver on a regular basis, whether it’s anti-bribery and corruption, or the variety of other compliance arrangements that we need to make, so Anti-Slavery fits in with this pre-existing compliance regime.
Mark: And finally, do you have any advice for people in a similar position as you about the whole process?
Tony: My advice would be that people should embrace the requirement because it’s there for a reason. And in doing so, it’s likely that they will enhance their reputation. These days talented employees have plenty of choices of companies to work for and do business with, they can pick and choose. At Wilmington we want to be chosen by talent; so we must ensure that we are seen as being a dynamic, responsible organisation which is planning for the long term, and that includes addressing our working practices and the way that we treat both employees and suppliers.
Wilmington’s Anti-Slavery Statement:
How Wilmington provides support for UK organisations needing information on the the Modern Slavery Act