Slavery still exists

Side profile of Richard Branson looking pensive with sky and buildings in the background
Owen Billcliffe
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 18 October 2020
Think the slave trade has ended? Think again.

Here’s three staggering statistics:

  • More than 40.3 million people are trapped in slavery worldwide and 1 in 4 of them are children

  • Modern slavery generates around £120bn in illicit profits each year. That’s more than the GDP of 130 countries

  • In 2019, 10,627 modern slavery victims were referred to UK authorities

Modern slavery is an appalling abuse of human beings for profit and it is a global problem, happening in every country in the world.

Modern slavery is all around us, but often just hiding out of sight. If a person is being exploited and they can’t refuse or leave because of threats, violence or coercion, it is modern slavery.

Every single business, big or small, faces risks and challenges from modern slavery and every business has a part to play in ending it. Business can be a key driver of social change and it’s time for business leaders to demand that slavery, forced labour and violence play no part in their companies, supply chains or their sphere of influence. Complacency on modern slavery is not an option.

At Virgin, we have adopted an Anti-Slavery Policy, which sets out our zero-tolerance stance on slavery and human trafficking, wherever and in whatever form it may be encountered. You can find out more about how we manage our Virgin companies and supply chains here.

We have also joined the Slave Free Alliance, an expert non-profit membership organisation committed to supporting companies to tackle modern slavery.

With Virgin Unite, I’ve been proud to play a part in launching and supporting The B Team – a group of business leaders who have come together with a shared belief that business can no longer be motivated by profit alone. The B Team are working to build momentum and action around this important responsibility in the private sector.

Modern slavery is a deplorable abuse of fundamental human rights and there is no place for it in business. When people are free to succeed, business succeeds. Let us come together to create the kind of world we want to live in – the only one that we will accept.