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'Price dominates purchase decisions, not ethical concerns'
Nov '15
A survey has found that only 7 per cent of the UK population say that ethical concerns about slavery, forced labour and human trafficking have the same or a greater influence on purchasing decisions than price and quality. According to the YouGov / Winckworth Sherwood survey, this is despite the recent introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, which requires businesses in the UK to report how they are tackling modern slavery, both directly within their businesses and their supply chain.

London-based Winckworth Sherwood provides a wide range of legal services to a diverse range of businesses, not-for-profit organisations and private individuals.

In 2013, more than 1700 cases of slavery were reported in the UK, and it is estimated to affect almost 30 million people worldwide. Despite this, consumers rank its importance when it comes to choosing what to buy fairly low, beneath convenience (14 per cent), brand reputation (13 per cent) and recommendations from friends and family (9 per cent). Transparency about a company's tax affairs (2 per cent) was the only issue that ranked lower. Price (76 per cent) and quality (62 per cent) were rated the most important factors.

Andrew Yule, partner in the employment team at Winckworth Sherwood commented that: “This data may suggest that many consumers take it as a given that businesses act responsibly, so feel comfortable focussing on price and quality over other factors. But it will be interesting to see whether businesses' new reporting obligations under the Modern Slavery Act will increase consumers' awareness and materially influence priorities when making choices between goods and services. It's also clear that those in the youngest age range polled (18-24) placed more importance on concerns around modern slavery, than other respondents.”

The Modern Slavery Act, which came into full effect at the end of October, requires any commercial organisation that supplies goods and services and has an annual worldwide turnover of £36 million ($55 million) or more to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement each financial year and display it on their website. This statement will explain the steps they have taken to ensure their business and supply chain is slavery-free. Alternatively, organisations can state they have taken no such steps. The government estimates this new Act will affect more than 12,000 businesses in the UK.

Nancy Dickie, senior associate in the commercial and corporate team at Winckworth Sherwood said: “The biggest challenge organisations will face as a result of this Act are the supply chain responsibilities. Retailers and clothing manufacturers are particularly at risk; we've already seen the adverse publicity can damage reputations, even if consumer purchasing decisions aren't immediately impacted. Whilst the reporting requirement falls on larger organisations, smaller businesses will nonetheless have to look to their own practices and policies in this area as their customers look for this increased level of transparency over their supply chain.” (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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