Business Blog

Business Blog


Hello and welcome to the business blog on the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network (WMASN) page.  My name is Shayne Tyler, and I have over 20 years’ practical experience within business, finding, tackling and resolving hundreds if not thousands of examples of worker exploitation and modern slavery.

My approach is not textbook and does not follow the theoretical teachings that have evolved over the past 5 years, since the modern slavery act has come to fruition.  My knowledge is based on practical examples and if used correctly will yield business improvements.

It is almost impossible to capture over 20 years of experience in this blog, but I hope that it explains the basic principles.

Step 1 Business Maturity

All businesses and by association the wider society need to gain an increased level of maturity and must simply accept Modern Day Slavery exists.  They must further accept it is almost definitely in their business or community and is guaranteed to be in their supply chain or the products they source.

Slavery or exploitation of other human beings is a crime that has existed for thousands of years and sadly is never likely to be totally eradicated.  That does not mean that we have to accept the practice and should do everything we can to tackle the crime to prevent it.

The first step in this process is accepting it is there.  Claiming you have no slavery in your supply chain, does nothing to tackle the issue and simply demonstrates you have not looked.

Step 2 – Know where you are as a business.

The second step is to know what type of business you are.  When I began looking at this over 20 years ago, I found there were 4 types of business and you spend most of the time in and out of each category.

The four categories are; Compliant, Unwilling, Unable and Unaware.

Unaware is probably the most common business type and simply does not understand the potential scale and risks associated with this crime.  It is easy to resolve as there exists a great deal of training programmes that can give you the theoretical narrative.

You must accept though you will always be in this category as no business is ever truly aware.  I still find myself learning new tactics employed by the exploiters and therefore needing to adapt and change.

Once you become aware most businesses believe they are completely Unable to deal with the scale of challenge.  They recognised they probably do not have the skills, resources or influence to effect significant change.  This will remain a challenge throughout your whole journey but must never be allowed to prevent you acting.  Find a way!

Some business reading this will be Unwilling.  They will not accept they have an issue; it is not their responsibility, or it will not affect them.  In all three counts you are wrong!  I could spend much of this blog explaining why, but I need to spend my resources helping ethical business prevail.

The final group are the Compliant.  These are a special group that have been on training courses, looked and risk assessed their supply chain, and implemented all of the prescribed systems to prevent this crime.  They live in a world of bliss, that they are protected.

Those that wish to exploit people are always changing their businesses models and looking for ways to beat your systems and infiltrate your business.  The compliant business is a myth.  It simply does not exist.

The key to this crucial step is to build on your business maturity and understand where you are on the journey.

Step 3 – Understand the Crime

Now that you accept Modern Slavery and exploitation is there and you understand your business constraints, you now need to really understand the crime before you can tackle it.

Firstly, let us understand the crime. 

In business we generally are infiltrated by victims of human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour or exploitation.

Human trafficking is made up of three parts.

Action Means and Purpose – The action is the transportation, harbouring or receipt of a person.  The means is how they are controlled, and the purpose is always profit.

That is not a crime!  That is a business model we all employ.  Most businesses take receipt, harbour or transport a product.  They control it, modify or change it in some way and only do this for the purpose of making money!

This is a crucial realisation as it helps us really tackle the exploiters.  It helps us understand how they think.  It helps us understand how their business works and it helps us consider how we can tackle them.  We need to think about how we put them out of business.

The second aspect of the crime that is essential is understanding the victims.  As a reader I want you to try something.  I want you to think of the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in your life.  The thing you are so ashamed of that you wouldn’t tell your nearest and dearest.  Now I ask that you tell a complete stranger!!!

This is exactly what we are asking of the victims?  It’s crazy right?  You might be lucky as 1% might tell you (if you can be bothered to ask), but that is not acceptable.  We have to assume they are not going to tell us and then we must find a way to look for it.

To do this you must deploy training to help people in your organisation identify the signs of modern slavery or exploitation.

My approach here is not conventional but is effective.

Firstly, training the lowest level is your business is far more effective than training the highest levels.  Ensure they know what to look for and what to do with the information they find.

Secondly, be mindful of the signs of modern slavery but don’t waste too much time looking for them.  The signs of modern slavery are in effect ‘the presence of abnormal’.  They are things that are not normal that you can see.  Now, if I am an exploiter and I know you are looking for these signs, I will hide them from you.  You will not see them.  For example;

If you go looking for a house of multiple occupancy, I will provide multiple false addresses, so you never see more than 3 people from the same address – easy!

You need to look for the absence of normal and this is why training to the lowest levels is so essential.  You need to understand the things in an employee’s life that are not normal.  The fact people never talk about doing things outside of work, may be an example of something that would be normal but is absent.

Train your staff you CARE for the person next to them and report to supervisors if they have any welfare concerns.

By doing the above you have a business that accepts the risks and an understanding for how those risks get into your business.  You have a trained workforce to identify those risks and now you need to develop your systems.

Step 4 – The 4 P’s

Every single business needs to implement systems that will help them tackle this crime.  However no single business can achieve this on its own – don’t even try – it will be costly and ineffective!

The systems need to be totally flexible and react to all of the latest threats and they need to mitigate every possible scenario.


We are simply not in control of the actions of the criminals, we cannot foresee their every move.  Unless the business is complicit, the business will be victims of the crime also.

We have to stop “naming and shaming” of business, it does little to encourage engagement and even less in practically tackling the crime.

Ethics 101 is to never walk away from a supplier.  Our job is to work with them to help resolve the issues.  If you walk away, nothing gets resolved and the likelihood is the exploitation simply continues or gets worse.

We have to think about how we deploy our limited resources and frankly writing elaborate business statements that do not reflect reality or have absolutely no effect on disrupting the exploiters business models or helping a victim of this crime is not an effective use of the resources.

We have to stop judging business on whether it has this crime but instead look at how they are dealing with it.

We must establish how we can work together.  This is why the WMASN is an essential part of the solution.  We have to collaborate to achieve the four P’s

Prevent – what is the business doing to prevent the crime?  How does it collaborate and change its systems to tackle this crime?

Prepare – given that all events cannot be prevented, what is the business doing to Prepare.  How are they looking for it? what are they doing when they find it?

Protect – what collaboration and systems are in place to protect the victims, your workforce and your business?

Pursue – what collaboration is established with authorities to help them pursue the perpetrators?

Not one of the 4 P’s listed above can be achieved on your own. You have to collaborate!