Officeoworks working to eradicate modern slavery


It is estimated there are 40 million people around the world trapped in modern slavery. The Australian Department of Home Affairs defines modern slavery as situations where coercion, threats or deception are used to exploit people and undermine their freedom. Examples of common modern slavery practices today include servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, the worst forms of child labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting for labour or services and human trafficking. 

In today’s highly globalised world where supply chains are long and complex, modern slavery presents a serious issue that all businesses need to work together to unite against and eradicate.  

Since 2016, as part of Wesfarmers, Officeworks has released an annual Modern Slavery Statement. The Statement summarises the steps taken by Officeworks, and Wesfarmers more broadly, to identify and mitigate the risk of modern slavery in theiroperations and supply chains. Officeworks seeks to work with its suppliers and non-government organisations to remediate and scale impact and promote a coordinated approach to tackling complex modern slavery issues.   

All suppliers of goods and services must adhere to the Officeworks Ethical Sourcing & Modern Slavery Policy, which outlines the minimum standards required to work with them. To date, Officeworks has mapped over 28,000 products to the primary site of manufacturing, with 578 manufacturers involved in the ethical sourcing audit program. Officeworks supports this approach with other targeted initiatives, such as foreign migrant worker assessments used in countries where the risk of forced labour is higher due to the level of migrant workers. During the year, Officeworks developed a bespoke self-assessment questionnaire to enable it to assess modern-slavery risk and corresponding corrective actions that all medium and high-risk service providers were required to complete.   

Officeworks recognises there are inherent and urgent issues relating worker exploitation within the Australian cleaning industry and this year became a member of the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF). CAF is an organisation that brings businesses, unions, government and workers together to help improve the labour conditions within the Australian cleaning industry. Through membership, Officeworks aims to contribute to the development of the retail certification standards to improve outcomes for workers.  

Throughout the year, Officeworks focused on building a greater awareness and understanding of modern slavery across the business. Officeworks launched an online modern slavery training module that was completed by over 300 team members and conducted targeted training on how to identify instances of forced labour.  

Next year, Officeworks will continue to work with its suppliers, partners and non-government organisations to investigate and remediate allegations of modern slavery and expand on supply chain transparency beyond the primary site of manufacturing, beginning with those supply chains most at risk of modern slavery.