Yodel are helping to prevent modern slavery
In 2019, a combined effort by our People team and our Security team kick-started Yodel’s journey to identify and remove opportunities for modern slavery within our network and our supply chain. Here, Director of People Services, Jodie McEvoy, and Director of Security, Daren Blackwell, talk about why this has been an important focus within Yodel.
“Modern slavery can affect anyone; we all need to understand and be more aware of slavery in a modern society” says Jodie, “Examples of slavery can be human trafficking, forced labour (adults and children), domestic servitude, bonded labour or debt bondage (withholding important documents and pay) and unlawful recruitment. We can all play our part to prevent this happening by being aware of the signals and knowing how and when to report any concerns.”
“In 2019, Yodel’s Security team was involved in two separate police investigations involving an Organised Crime Group engaging in people trafficking.” begins Daren, “It was extremely important to our department to ensure that no victims were within the Yodel network or supply chain”.
“The People team had been monitoring the potential issue of modern slavery within Yodel” mentions Jodie, “The business had taken small steps in this area but when Sam Holden joined as Chief Commercial Officer she inspired me to drive this agenda further through her own passion and commitment to prevent all forms of modern slavery.”
“Going forward, myself and Daren both have the same goals for the project; to detect opportunities for modern slavery within the network and prevent these, but also to raise awareness of the topic with all colleagues, to provide them with the knowledge to identify and raise any concerns and give them the confidence to speak out” says Jodie.
“The first step was to create a project steering group. We knew this had to be an organisation-wide initiative and from the off, we had a dedicated group of colleagues from across all functions as part of the Modern Slavery Steering Committee” says Daren, “This collaborative, cross-functional working is what really enabled this project to be so successful. Colleagues across the business bought into the need to highlight and remove this extremely serious activity. This internal success was mirrored externally as Yodel’s reputation within this area improved significantly and led to us building relationships with other associated charities and agencies.”
“A key part of the project was Yodel’s partnership with Slave Free Alliance” Jodie points out, “we were extremely proud when Yodel became the first carrier to partner with the organisation , which is run by Hope for Justice, a non-profit organisation that aims to end all modern slavery and human trafficking activity. SFA worked closely with us and put a robust action plan in place, from which we have actioned most of the components included. Outputs from this activity can be seen throughout the business. Within Yodel, you may have seen that we updated and communicated out numerous policies and procedures, and we have engaged in various awareness campaigns, including messaging on our hi-vis jackets within our sort centres.”
“With so much achieved already, we are planning even more activity” says Jodie, “We will continue to partner with Slave Free Alliance and other organisations to enable us to further support victims of modern slavery, as well as work with other carriers who are now engaging in this area too on how we can raise awareness of this topic within our industry as a whole.”
“Internally”, Daren continues, “We will be working with colleagues across all functions to enhance the Security department’s responses in preventing and protecting Yodel and its assets, including colleagues, as well as establishing a strong central escalation procedure, supported by 12 highly trained investigators and a transparent reporting mechanism. Plus, we will look to provide awareness training for colleagues who may be involved in responding in the event of modern slavery being identified.”
“The successes of the project so far have been achieved not due to single, individual efforts but are down to the wider Yodel team” highlights Daren, “From those on the steering committee driving the activity through to our colleagues who have embraced the challenge of removing the opportunity for modern slavery activity within the Yodel network."