This is the parent company statement and we are adhering to this at this subsidiary.
At Argent Foods Limited, we are committed to operating our business in a transparent and responsible manner, striving to attain the highest ethical standards and respect for human rights. This includes reducing the risks of modern slavery throughout our business and our supply chain. Modern slavery encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.
In this statement we set out our business operation and the considerations we have taken in regards to mitigating the risks of Modern Slavery. This statement relates to our actions and activities during the financial year ending 31st December 2016.
Organisational structure and supply chains
Argent Foods Limited is a diverse group operating a number of businesses within food and food related industries. We supply a broad range of customers in retail, food service and manufacturing and have global operations. Our supply base is extensive and also has a global reach.
We have over 6,300 suppliers worldwide and some of their countries of operation are considered as higher risk in terms of Modern Slavery. We work closely with our suppliers to mitigate these risks by taking a structured, aligned and sustainable approach to tackling Modern Slavery across the group.
We have appointed a Strategic Steering Group consisting of senior individuals across HR, Technical, Audit and Compliance, to understand and mitigate the risks of Modern Slavery across our business and our supply chain. The Strategic Steering Group has the full support of the board of directors and works with teams in each business to ensure that the actions we undertake to mitigate Modern Slavery in each of the businesses we operate are fit for purpose.
Our stance on modern slavery
The respect and protection of human rights is a core belief of Argent Foods Limited and as such we do not accept any forms of forced, bonded, involuntary or child labour. We expect the businesses who work with us to follow these principles and will not knowingly work with those who do not.
In response to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, we have developed our Policy on Preventing Modern Slavery. This sets out our commitment to mitigate the risks of slavery within our business and the expectations we have of our employees and suppliers in supporting this.
Open communication is vital to reduce the risk of any exploitation of our people, as such we encourage an open culture with all our stakeholders. We encourage all our employees, customers and other partners to report any concerns related to our direct activities or those of our supply chains. This includes any circumstances that may give rise to an enhanced risk of modern slavery. Our Policy on whistleblowing is designed to support our open culture and to make it easy for employees to make any disclosures, without fear of retribution.
We are reviewing all of our business and people policies to further cement our commitment in this area, making our stance and processes clear to all stakeholders.
Modern Slavery is a global issue and as such we will collaborate with and support industry and global prevention bodies. In 2016, our key external partnerships were with Stronger Together, the GLA and the ALP. We have adopted their guidelines to develop our principles in tackling Modern Slavery and to develop our internal training plans.
We will continue to partner with external bodies, including more industry groups and charities which specialise in supporting victims of Modern Slavery.
We risk assess our suppliers through the relevant industry bodies and the ETI base code principles, seeking to support them to achieve the required standards. These standards include the protection of human rights and address areas that might give rise to enhanced risks of Modern Slavery.
In addition, the following activities will take place in the next financial year:
Development of a broad risk assessment across the group to assign risk levels to each subsidiary organisation with an associated action plan.
A review of our current supply chain audit/support mechanisms to ensure the inclusion of assessments of the risk of Modern Slavery.
The continued use of industry bodies, where suppliers can be checked for their labour standards, compliance in general, and Modern Slavery in particular.
Awareness raising and Training
We have identified awareness raising and training as key areas to address in our desire to reduce the risks of Modern Slavery in our business operations. The training plan includes a training needs analysis across the group, highlighting the specific knowledge needs for senior and supplier facing employees to entry level roles. This allows us to determine and develop the appropriate awareness raising and training activities for our entire workforce.
Plans for next year include awareness raising through posters and visual prompts in our employee areas and particularly factories and areas where there are high risk workforce groups.
We have begun training our senior teams and aim to have all appropriate employees trained in the next financial year and will provide more detail on this in our next annual statement.
Measuring effectiveness and maintaining progress
We are developing a comprehensive programme which will highlight and address the risks of Modern Slavery and are developing long term measurements to assess our effectiveness and that of our suppliers in this area. These will measure employee training, supplier audit completion, supplier audit scores and also improvements made. More information will be provided in subsequent annual statements.
This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes the Group’s slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31st December 2016. This statement has been approved by the board of directors, who will review and update it annually.
Name: David Gray, Group Chief Executive
Date: April 2017