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First Sentier Investors

  •   12 November 2020
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APAC Investor alliance urges companies to act against modern slavery

Thursday 12 November, 2020: The newly-formed coalition, Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking (IAST) APAC, has today sent a statement to 100 ASX-listed companies to guide their approach to addressing modern slavery.

IAST APAC has been convened by First Sentier Investors, together with Aware Super, AustralianSuper, Fidelity International, Ausbil Investment Management and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI). Walk Free and the Liechtenstein Initiative for Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) are acting as Secretariat. The initiative is open to asset owners and asset managers in the APAC region.

The statement has been signed by 24 investors with a collective A$5.8 trillion assets under management and is designed to address the harms of modern slavery, which includes forced labour, debt bondage, human trafficking, child labour and forced marriage. It is estimated to affect more than 40 million people globally, with women and girls making up 71 per cent of victims, and children representing one in four.

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Commonwealth) came into force in Australia in 2019. With around 3000 reporting entities publishing their first reports over the next year, the investor group says this is an important time to engage with companies on the issue.

The statement says: “As investors, we see modern slavery, human trafficking and labour exploitation as something that goes beyond ethics. Business models and value chains that rely on underpaid workers, weak regulation or illegal activities such as forced labour and other forms of modern slavery drive unsustainable earnings. Companies are exposed to significant compliance and brand risk, which can be costly and time-consuming to address.

“As investors, we expect companies to meet their reporting and compliance obligations and in doing so encourage companies to examine the broader risks of labour exploitation as a leading indicator of modern slavery.”

The investor statement sets out the best practice principles for modern slavery reporting as defined by IAST APAC, and builds on experience in the UK where similar reporting is already legislated. It will be followed by engagement between investors and individual companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

See linked document: Modern Slavery Investor Statement

 

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