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Decathlon and combating forced labour

Krishna KUMAAR DHAMODARAN's account, as a production team leader and expert in combating forced labour.

According to estimates by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), nearly 25 million people worldwide were in forced labour in 2016.The economic and social impact of the health crisis has currently accentuated the vulnerability of populations most likely to be affected by this situation.

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We interviewed krishna kumaar dhamodaran, project leader - tackling forced labor across supply chain

“At Decathlon our purpose is to making ourselves helpful to people and their planet. By working on the issue of forced labour, our objective is to make the supply chain more transparent and ethical. To this end, we have focused, for the last few years, on making our teammates and suppliers more accountable for this issue.
We were able to identify the key risks and prioritise our actions by upskilling upstream of the supply chain and putting in place appropriate tools.
In 2022, we are going to continue to roll out these tools, strengthen our teams and acquire the expertise that will let us put in place effective and long-lasting mitigating measures. We are, lastly, going to cooperate with different stakeholders to make use of collective intelligence to go even further and faster.”

How do you make the supply chain more transparent and ethical?

Despite the audit processes applied across our value chain (to Tier 1 and some Tier 2 suppliers), each country has its own regulatory constraints that do not necessarily cover all of Decathlon's human rights requirements.
Due to the impetus, in particular, of the British Modern Slavery Act of 2015, followed by the French Due diligence laws of 2017, Decathlon is continually furthering its commitment to three issues related to modern slavery: forced labour, responsible recruitment by our suppliers and debt slavery.

In 2021, we reinforced our requirements and evolved our audit checklist along these lines:
■ new issues have been added to the unacceptable (E) category in connection with recruitment practices through intermediaries, support for migrant workers before and after their arrival, and freedom of movement of workers within the dormitories and
the workplace;
■ ten new questions have also been included regarding the recruitment practices of our suppliers who commit to not charging fees to workers
To help its suppliers better understand these new requirements, Decathlon has provided them with a toolbox containing illustrations for each of the new questions in the audit checklist.

In addition to incorporating the updated audit checklist, we can also mention other advances in combating forced labour in 2021:
■ the deployment of two accompanying guides for industrial partners with the integration of the dormitory guidelines and the ethical recruitment guidelines (created in 2020) into the audit checklist and the Code of Conduct in 2021; they have also been rolled out
this year in all countries considered most at risk (the risk mapping is available in Decathlon's Modern Slavery Statement 2020 ;
 ■ Further developing team members and suppliers' knowledge with over 100 people (team members and suppliers) made aware of the 11 forced labour indicators identified by the ILO through a webinar devoted to the subject; awareness-raising sessions organised at production sites for workers; currently putting on display a poster presenting these indicators in all priority countries (a process already undertaken on 58 sites);
■ the organisation of a training course provided by the International Organisation for Migration (ILO) to train 15 OPM-SD on recruitment practices for migrant workers;
■ the deployment of the Apprise application in risk countries, enabling auditors to detect situations of forced labour in the field and add additional questions during individual interviews with workers while ensuring the confidentiality of their answers.58 manufacturing sites have used Apprise in 2021.

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Our manufacturing responsabilities

At DECATHLON, we design our products. To this end, we are also at the origin of their production. In other words, we put in place a large-scale manufacturing system to make these products available all over the world and in larger volumes. As a result of this activity, we have a responsibility: respecting the rights of the people manufacturing our products, and limiting our activity's environmental impact. These measures are put in place both globally and locally among people living in the area surrounding our production factories.
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The production and manufacturing of Decathlon products

Issues linked to manufacturing raise plenty of questions, which is entirely normal:we reveal all here.