Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters

IT giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), law firm Hogan Lovells, Blackstone investment group, ITN, Sport for Freedom, Omnia Strategy LLP and the Thomson Reuters Foundation are among the firms that have signed up to our statement, pledging to be diligent about eradicating slavery from supply chains.

The Co-op has also signed up: its Bright Future campaign provides paid work placements to victims of slavery.

Numerous other firms are in talks about backing the initiative and a full list will be published in the Standard next month.

Julia Immonen, chief executive of Sport for Freedom, said: “It’s great to sign up to the Stop Slavery Statement and play a role in the Evening Standard campaign.”

Monique Villa, chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said she was delighted it was among the first to publicly back the initiative.

John Schultz vice executive president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise praises campaign

Last year Hewlett Packard Enterprise was the inaugural winner of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Stop Slavery Award

Modern slavery takes many forms. In a recent report the International Labour Organisation estimated 40.3 million men, women and children were victims of slavery in 2016. More than half of these, 25 million, were victims of forced labour, working under some type or threat of coercion.

In the manufacturing industry, where roughly 10 per cent of these victims are estimated to work, there are common indicators of forced labour. One is document retention, where a worker’s passport is held so he or she can’t leave. Another is charging exorbitant recruitment fees that leave a worker in debt bondage. Sometimes, outright threats are made to workers and their families.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has long taken a stance against forced labour and trafficking, and made it a business imperative to protect vulnerable worker groups. HPE has an extensive supply chain which spans more than 45 countries across six continents. Vigilance is key. Nearly three years ago we launched our Foreign Migrant Worker Standard. This addressed several aspects of employment where there is a risk of forced labour. Among other things, it required that workers receive a copy of their contract in a language they understand and prohibited worker-paid recruitment fees. It also required that workers could maintain their passports and other documentation.

It was gratifying to have our efforts acknowledged by the Thomson Reuters Foundation but we are not resting on our laurels. We were a founding member of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment. We also promote the Employer Pays Principle, which stipulates that employers, not workers, should bear the costs of recruitment.

More can be done to eliminate forced labour in supply chains. Addressing the root causes will take more than action by the private sector — governments need to play their part, particularly in liaising across borders. In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was a catalyst to action, but that law alone will not suffice. We need legislation to protect migrant workers in their home countries. Ethical behaviour must be incentivised, too.

By applying due diligence to their supply chains, however, businesses can help change the environments in which modern slavery thrives. This can improve the lives of millions.

“The Thomson Reuters Foundation is proud to sign up to the Evening Standard’s pledge, which encapsulates the very essence of our work,” she said.

“For seven years now, we have been shedding light on a global issue which was largely under-reported in mainstream media.”

Trust conference

Trust Conference, which will take place at the Queen Elizabeth II centre on November 15 and 16, is the leading anti-slavery forum in the world.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation runs the event, which is focused on finding solutions to fight slavery and to advance human rights worldwide.

Participants have included winners of the Nobel peace prize, business leaders, legal firms, activists, survivors and TV and film personalities. Guest speakers have included Gillian Anderson, Sir Anish Kapoor, and Livia Firth.

Standard readers can get an exclusive discounted ticket for Trust Conference.

Register at using code EVENSTAND2017.

Omnia Strategy united with ITN and Blackstone to make clear they would address all risk of slavery in their business and supply chain.

Hogan Lovells, HPE and Sport for Freedom joined them in the commitment and the promise to work with the Government to combat the “evil” of modern slavery in all its forms.

Last week Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the ex-Met commissioner who is leading the Standard’s special investigation, called for corporates to do more.

Sir Bernard said: “It’s great to see some of the leading names in British business taking a stand on this subject.”