Over the last decade, the world's largest corporations - from The Coca Cola Company to Amazon, Apple to Unilever - have taken up the cause of combatting modern slavery. Yet, by most measures, across many sectors and regions, severe labour exploitation continues to soar. Corporate social responsibility is not working. Why?
In this landmark book, Genevieve LeBaron lifts the lid on a labour governance regime that is severely flawed and limited. She takes a close-up look at the millions of corporate dollars spent on anti-slavery networks, NGO partnerships, lobbying for new transparency legislation, and investment in social auditing and ethical certification schemes, to show how such efforts serve to bolster corporate growth and legitimacy as well as government reputations, whilst failing to protect the world's most vulnerable workers.
To eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking in global supply chains a new approach is needed; one that confronts corporate power and profits, dismantles exploitative business models, and regulates the booming private industry of accounting firms, social auditors, and consultants that has emerged to 'monitor' and 'enforce' labour standards. Only worker-driven initiatives that uphold fundamental rights can protect workers in the contemporary global economy and make forced labour a thing of the past.
Publisher: Polity Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 410 g
Dimensions: 223 x 142 x 23 mm
"'LeBaron's book gives renewed focus to what business actors, civil society, and government need to do to in order to combat modern slavery. It is a highly recommended read for all those involved in the challenges of eradicating slavery."
Urmila Bhoola, Former UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery
"Combating Modern Slavery is a bold, deeply-empirical, even heroic work of moral social science by a brilliant and intrepid scholar. With original field work and a deep dive into the nature of supply chains, global labor governance regimes, audit methods practiced by actual companies, and the worst elements of labor exploitation among the most endangered people, this book is a sobering but moving explanation of the politics and the economics of the modern slavery crisis... In a world struck numb by a pandemic, this book warns us of what millions of the most vulnerable of laborers already face every day."
David W. Blight, Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery and Abolition, Yale University, and author of the Pulitzer prize-winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
"We don't need another hero, argues Genevieve LeBaron. Companies have long promised to sell ethically made products, but they have covered up and misdiagnosed forced labor. Combatting Modern Slavery lays out a readable critique and promising way forward."
Tim Bartley, Washington University in St Louis
"A scorching critique of corporate-led efforts to address forced labor and trafficking that shines a spotlight on more promising, worker-driven initiatives for addressing exploitation in the global economy."
Janie Chuang, American University
"An important and original analysis of 'modern slavery' and forced labour that does not shy away from asking difficult questions."
Samantha Currie, University of Liverpool
"A lucid and provocative critique of the contemporary global labor governance regime."
American Journal of Sociology