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BT's quarterly newsletter for analysts, consultants and investors - Feature: BT publishes first statement on our actions against modern slavery

BT publishes first statement on our actions against modern slavery

By Moira Oliver, Head of Policy & Chief Counsel, Human/Digital Rights, BT's policy team

At BT we're committed to running our business responsibly. We strive to maintain high ethical principles and to respect human rights.

In July, we issued our first Modern Slavery Act statement1 covering the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

Ethical standards in a complex supply chain

As one of the world's leading communications services companies we buy a vast range of things, from network and IT hardware to corporate clothing. Our supply chain is large and complex - we have around 16,000 suppliers in over 150 countries, and in turn, many of our suppliers have their own suppliers.

The Way We Work

We only work with people who choose to work freely. We have a long-standing policy that we don't use or accept forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour or child labour. Nor do we demand deposits or hold onto our workers' identity papers, or work with businesses that do. We respect the right to equal opportunity, freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Our statement of business practices and values – 'The Way We Work' – echoes this. It's available in 14 languages and sets out how we expect BT people to behave. Everyone who works for BT has to complete training on The Way We Work - when they're first recruited and on an annual basis after that.

The Way We Work is also the standard we expect from everyone who works on our behalf – including suppliers and contractors. It's part of our purchasing terms for direct suppliers.

Sourcing with Human Dignity

We want our suppliers' employees to experience working conditions that are safe and fair. So we ask all but our lowest-risk suppliers to complete our 'Sourcing with Human Dignity' questionnaire. Based on their responses, we follow up with any suppliers identified as high or medium risk. This can include visiting supplier sites to make sure they meet our standards.

Helping to eradicate modern slavery is important to us. So we'll be updating The Way We Work later in 2016 to better reflect the Modern Slavery Act. And we'll strengthen sections of our Sourcing with Human Dignity standard to include more explicit references to forced or bonded labour and human trafficking. We'll also develop a more comprehensive programme addressing the risks of slavery and human trafficking beyond our direct suppliers. Longer term, we'll look at developing better ways of measuring the effectiveness of the steps we take to manage these risks.

Read more at:

The Way We Work

Working With BT - Sourcing With Human Dignity

BT - Modern Slavery: Where We Stand

1 The 'Transparency in Supply Chains' provision in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires every organisation with a turnover of more than £36m supplying good and services in the UK to publish an annual statement setting out what it's doing to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking from occurring in its business operations and supply chains.

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