This week, Governor Schwarzenegger received a letter from 32 corporate research firms and investors representing $40 billion dollars in assets. Their message? Sign the California law which would force large companies doing business in California to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and exploitation in their supply chains. That kind of money talks, but is Gov. Schwarzenegger listening? The legislation, The California Supply Chain Transparency Act of 2010 (SB 657), will be California state law if signed, and the effects will be felt all over the country and all over the world by reducing the market for slave-made goods. It will require retailers and manufacturers doing business in California and having more than $100 million in annual worldwide gross receipts to publicly disclose some basic things about what they're doing to end slavery in their supply chains. That includes whether or not the company uses verification to evaluate and address human trafficking risks in product supply chains, including if they use 3rd party verification; conduct independent and unannounced audits of suppliers; direct supplier certification; and what they do to train and maintain internal accountability for employees and contractors failing to meet company standards on slavery and trafficking. With this information, consumers across the country will have better tools to help them make ethical decisions about what they purchase.
The group of socially-responsible investors, headed up by the Inter-Faith Center on Corporate Responsibility, claimed in their letter that they recognize the requirements of the new bill may be challenging for some companies. However, they point out that many companies including The Gap, Nike, and Target already voluntarily disclose the sort of information the new legislation will require. Plus, they argue, disclosure of slavery-reduction activities is critical for consumers and investors to make conscious and informed choices.
Investors and business analysts are just the most recent segments to weigh in on the proposed legislation. Several anti-trafficking organizations also sent a letter to the Governor, asking him to make the legislation law. And almost 2,000 Change.org readers have supported the bill as well. Will you add your name to help reduce supply chain slavery around the world?