Anti-Slavery efforts reach SMEs

Shiva Foundation and STOP THE TRAFFIK have launched a toolkit to help SMEs mitigate their risk of exploitation. Available for free download at the bottom of this page.

Anti-slavery organisations Shiva Foundation and STOP THE TRAFFIK have launched a free toolkit for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The toolkit will be the first of its kind, being both free and specifically created for SMEs in consultation with business experts. Launched at a free webinar for SMEs and advisory groups, the toolkit includes key features such as a simple risk self-assessment, practical steps to protect employees, and clear guidance on how to report modern slavery concerns.

The need

The UK Modern Slavery Act was enacted in 2015, giving larger businesses a legal responsibility to report on what steps they are taking to address modern slavery in their business and supply chains. The focus on larger businesses meant that those turning over less than the £36 million threshold would fall out of scope of the Act. While the intention was to have a trickle-down effect throughout larger business supply chains, the evidence of this result is not there.

SMEs make up 99% of all UK businesses and employ 16.8 million people. SMEs are also more restricted in terms of resources they can dedicate to mitigating the risk of modern slavery in their operations. The toolkit comes from this knowledge and has been created to make the process as simple and effortless as possible. Shiva Foundation and STOP THE TRAFFIK will be hosting a series of webinars around the country in the coming months to help SMEs become acquainted with the toolkit.


Modern slavery happens everywhere, including here in the UK. It operates in plain sight and could affect businesses without them even knowing. It is therefore crucial that all businesses, including SMEs, understand how they might be affected so that they can take steps to reduce the risk.

  • The number of victims of modern slavery rises each year. In 2019, 10,627 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the National Referral Mechanism, but due to the hidden nature of the crime, the real number is suspected to be far greater.
  • According to the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) hospitality, care, construction, agriculture, beauty services and manufacturing are all considered, among others, to be high-risk industries for labour exploitation in the UK.

Sian Lea, Managing Director of Shiva Foundation, said:

“We have spoken with many SMEs over the years who have been looking for support to help them address modern slavery risk. What they were hoping for was support that kept their size and capacity in mind; that is what this toolkit does.”

Jason Nunn, Director of Business Engagement at STOP THE TRAFFIK, said:

“This is an invaluable and useful tool, offering practical guidance which is tailored specifically to SMEs. It supports SMEs to mitigate the reputational and financial risk that modern slavery poses and offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate ethical standards and grow their business.”

Liza Armstrong, Business and Strategic Development Manager at Herts Growth Hub, said:

“It’s great to see that some of our initial feedback has been incorporated into the guide. I think it offers very clear and practical support to SMEs as well as tools and sample documents that will be extremely valuable and help to ensure that businesses engage with it.”

Dame Sara Thornton, DBE, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:

“Small and medium sized businesses have an essential role in combatting modern slavery, but often struggle to find resources tailored to their needs.

I welcome this accessible and informative guide which sets out the practical steps SMEs can take to safeguard workers in their own operations and in their supply chains. It can be used across any sector, and may be a useful reference tool for larger businesses tool.”

For more information, contact our Consulting Team here: [email protected]

 Download the Toolkit today

SME Toolkit

SME Toolkit

8.44 MB · pdf

SME Toolkit Summary

SME Toolkit Summary

4.51 MB · pdf

SME Toolkit Brief

Download was expired on 30th November 2023 01:00 AM

1.57 MB · pdf

About Shiva Foundation

Shiva Foundation is an impact-driven corporate foundation with the aim of preventing human exploitation by working with those fighting it. In order for us to achieve our ultimate aim of an end to human exploitation, we are looking at what causes exploitation and addressing it. We recognise that for us to get ahead of exploiters, everyone has to be part of this fight. We work with business, government and NGOs to make change happen.


STOP THE TRAFFIK ​is an established innovator in the prevention of modern slavery and human trafficking. Working with a highly engaged network of influential partners including IBM, Facebook, Edelman, major global financial institutions and others, STT has pioneered a disruptive model for combating the heinous crime of human trafficking. The model is grounded in empowering individuals and communities through the intelligent use of technology to accomplish what to date has seemed impossible: preventing the buying and selling of human beings. The objective is building empowered and resilient communities, thus creating meaningful societal change.

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