Meeting ID: 869 1912 3539
Over the last decade, the world’s largest corporations – from The Coca Cola Company to Amazon, Apple to Unilever – have taken up the cause of combatting modern slavery. Yet, by most measures, across many sectors and regions, severe labour exploitation continues to soar. Corporate social responsibility is not working. Why? In this talk, Genevieve LeBaron will explore why over twenty years of corporate social responsibility initiatives have failed to produce worksites that are free of forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking, in spite of this being a key aim. Drawing on ground-level data in tea, cocoa, and garment supply chains — including over 1200 interviews with vulnerable workers at the base of global supply chains — she will explore how dynamics of corporate power, profit, and consolidation, and supply chain dynamics give rise to forced labour. She will argue that the booming private industry of accounting firms, social auditors and consultants that have emerged to monitor and enforce labour standards do little to disrupt business models configured around forced labour, and ultimately, while corporate social responsibility serves to bolster corporate growth and legitimacy, it is failing to protect the world’s most vulnerable workers.
About the speaker
Genevieve LeBaron is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. She is also Co-Chair of Yale University’s Modern Slavery Working Group and an Editor of Review of International Political Economy. She serves on the UK Government Office of Science working group on Trade & Aid and the reference group for United Nations Delta 8.7. She was elected to the College of the Royal Society of Canada in 2020.
Her research focuses on labour rights and standards in the global economy and the governance of supply chains, which is the subject of her most recent book, Combatting Modern Slavery: Why Labour Governance is Failing and What We Can Do About It (Polity, 2020).