News & Updates

Combating Modern Slavery in New Zealand through Investor Action

Tue Nov. 10th 2020

Watch the seminar online here.

Around 40 million vulnerable people are exploited for profit through forms of enslavement - the vast majority of them are women and children. This seminar looked at the evidence of modern slavery in New Zealand and supply chains of NZ companies; initiatives by government and companies; and international experience with legislation and investor action.

Our panel was:

  • Dr. Christina Stringer is Associate Professor at University of Auckland and co-founder of the Centre for Research on Modern Slavery. Christina talked about her research projects around New Zealand's fishing industry, trafficking, and slavery. She also outlined the different initiatives and processes that are creating strong momentum for a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand. The research shows exploitation of vulnerable workers, particularly migrant workers.
    • You can read her Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation report here, or more of her work here
  • Tania Donaldson is Manager for Employer Systems and Assurance at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Tania provided further examples of exploitation of workers in New Zealand, from the horticulture sector to labour involved in the Chorus fibre roll out. She also talked about the role of her team in MBIE in engaging and educating business and investors, and providing guidance to manage their supply chains according to human rights norms. She recommended enquiring around the following before investments are made:
      • Does the organisation have a code of conduct that outlines expectations around the treatment of workers?
      • Do they regularly report on sustainability, including worker treatment?
      • Do they have a transparent supply chain map?
      • Where are their greatest risks for potential exploitation?
      • Are there systems in place for employee feedback?
        • You can see more of her work here 
    • Remco Slim is product manager at Sustainalytics where he is responsible for its Global Standards Screening which assesses whether companies are linked to violations of international norms and standards. Remco talked about Modern Slavery from an investment point of view, and how robust and consistent reporting (like heatmaps) of portfolio risin terms of potential exploitation in supply chains can allow better decisions to be made. He outlined some methods are currently being used to provide management and assurance, such as safe whistle-blowing processes and independently interviewing workers.

      • Here is a link to Sustainanalytic's webinar on Modern Slavery.

      • With thanks to our principal sponsors - Generate KiwiSaver, Harbour Asset Management, Booster Asset Management, and Sustainalytics; contributing sponsors - AMP Capital, Harbour Asset Management, Mercer and Milford Asset Management; and supporting sponsor - Devon Funds Management.