The Global Slavery Index estimates that 35.8 million people live in some form of slavery. Slave labor is a part of most supply chains today, especially in companies that have a supply chain with multiple tiers and in those doing business across country borders. Human trafficking and slavery can be exceedingly difficult to find and eliminate from supply chains, because most of the abuses occur in the first mile near farms and mines that may be unknown to a consumer-facing company. Not knowing that slave labor is being used is no longer an acceptable excuse for society. And the reputational damage caused by negative publicity is a massive problem for companies: Deloitte's 2013 global executive survey found reputational damage to be the number one risk concern for business executives around the world. So how are companies supposed to find and eradicate slavery in hugely complex supply chains in order to protect human rights and their reputation? Undercover nuns could provide the answer.
The network of nuns created in 2009 is called Talitha Kum, which translates from Aramaic to "Maiden, I say to you, arise," and symbolizes the “transformative power of compassion and mercy.” The nuns' goals include promoting preventative actions, raising awareness, protection and assistance of victims, and official reporting of human trafficking. The network is active in 70 countries, and does everything from educating people about human trafficking and modern slavery to going undercover as prostitutes to rescue women and children forced into prostitution.
The on-the-ground information collected by the more than 600 nuns could be invaluable to companies trying to determine whether slavery is hidden in their supply chains. As Talitha Kum’s network and influence expands, it is easy to imagine their on-the-ground work contributing to a database of known incidences of human trafficking and slavery that could be compared to company supply chain data. Even if this level of detailed knowledge is collected, it will be virtually worthless to a company unless it has a thorough understanding of its supplier base. That's where supply chain mapping comes in.
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For more information on Talitha Kum’s work check out their website here.