Aldi UK has an integrated modern slavery strategy based on comprehensive policies and processes, effective risk-assessment, training and ongoing reviews and dialogue with suppliers. Our CR department is responsible for the design and implementation of this strategy in the UK and Ireland. They are supported by the Corporate Buying department, the ALDI SOUTH Group’s International CR department and our specialist ethical audit teams based in Bangladesh and Hong Kong. Like many international businesses, we source products from a range of countries and recognise there is a risk of modern slavery in our product supply chains. To mitigate this risk, we have developed comprehensive policies and processes that all suppliers must sign up to before we work with them. These include Aldi’s Social Standards in Production.
As forced or bonded labour issues are often hidden from view, we also support the development of new responsible recruitment initiatives, such as Clearview, a certification scheme specifically designed for labour recruiters and providers.
Identifying modern slavery risk within our supply chain
Modern slavery is a complex and hidden problem. To detect this issue, we undertake regular risk-based due diligence across the full scope of our business and supply chains. Please see information on our Ethical Trade Programme and our Aldi Social Assessments for more details.
Managing risk in our business
We source our products from around 70 different countries around the world and recognise there is a risk of modern slavery in all parts of the supply chain, from where the product is made or grown through to its journey to our stores. There are certain product types and geographical territories where this risk is greater, such as tea from India and seafood from Thailand. To mitigate this risk, we have a comprehensive system of checks and controls in place to identify high-risk areas in our supply chain and wider business. These include third party ethical audits,Aldi Social Assessments and insight gained through collaborative initiatives with stakeholders such as Stronger Together, Sedex and the British Retail Consortium. This risk assessment is complemented by in-house ethical trade experts at our CR departments in the UK and the wider ALDI SOUTH Group, including our specialist ethical audit teams on the ground in Bangladesh and Hong Kong.
We also have an Aldi Alert Line that can be used by suppliers and employees in confidence to raise concerns or report any policy violations. This independent service is staffed by multi-lingual call handlers and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All reports are fully investigated and callers always remain confidential.
How we aim to ensure modern slavery is not taking place
Through our Ethical Trade Programme, more than 1,100 ethical audits were carried out in 2017 by independent third parties and by Aldi’s own ethical audit teams. These audits identified a number of issues, mainly relating to working hours and health and safety issues. In the few cases where there was a risk of modern slavery corrective action plans were implemented that set out a clear process and timeline for resolving these issues.
When a problem arises, the type of corrective action implemented will depend on the severity of the issue and the willingness of the supplier to work collaboratively with us to find a solution. At the heart of it all is our collaborative approach with our suppliers to work on correcting these issues.
Training and capacity building
To effectively tackle modern slavery, we must raise awareness of this issue across our business and supply chains. It is vital that colleagues and suppliers are trained to spot issues and have the skills and confidence to deal with them as soon as they arise.
Training for employees
· Since 2015, our CR team has run a number of modern slavery training sessions for employees in our Buying department. This training includes guidance on modern slavery, including relevant questions to ask and what to look for during site visits.
· All new employees with buying responsibility receive one-to-one training as part of their induction, to ensure they have a thorough understanding of ethical trade issues, including modern slavery.
Training for suppliers
· All suppliers are asked to attend Stronger Together workshops. These sessions are led by labour rights experts and help suppliers understand what modern slavery is and how to spot warning signs. Since these workshops began in 2013, more than 500 delegates from suppliers of Aldi have attended.
· We host training sessions with suppliers to train and educate them on modern slavery.
CASE STUDY – Detecting modern slavery
One of our long-standing fresh produce suppliers identified a case in its own supply chain of vulnerable workers being exploited by a third party. As the supplier had undergone modern slavery training, it had robust checks in place to quickly identify and handle this situation. The supplier immediately informed the GLAA and the local police, who subsequently brought a successful prosecution against the third party for human trafficking and forced labour.
In instances like this, we work collaboratively with the supplier and the authorities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. As soon as the supplier proactively informed Aldi of the situation, we sent members of our CR and Buying teams to visit the supplier site and carry out a thorough check of the working conditions, including worker interviews, document reviews and an interview with the third-party labour provider. We held several face-to-face meetings with the supplier, including their senior HR representative, to understand how the issue occurred and to offer support to the supplier to prevent it happening again.
We recognise that a single organisation acting on its own cannot eradicate modern slavery, and the most effective way to tackle an issue of this complexity and scale is through collaboration. As a result, we continue to establish partnerships and collaborate with others to raise awareness of modern slavery and find solutions for workers. Our collaborations and partnerships relating to modern slavery are as follows: