The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How Walmart addresses human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains

Case study: How Walmart addresses human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains

As one of the world’s largest retailers, operating over 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries and employing almost 2.2 million associates globally, Walmart believes that all people deserve safe, healthy working conditions that are free from coercion. Accordingly, through its Responsible Sourcing programme and collaborative initiatives, Walmart is working to promote dignity and respect for the men and women who make the products it sells.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the 2017 Global Responsibility Report by Walmart published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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As risk factors that can lead to human trafficking and forced labour cross national and industry boundaries, Walmart seeks to form coalitions and engages with governments to confront these challenges in the global supply chain, through collective action. In order to address human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains Walmart took action to:

  • promote responsible recruitment practices
  • develop a training marketplace
  • promote compliance with labour standards
  • invest in innovation and tools

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Global Responsibility Report Walmart identified a range of material issues, such as supporting small and local farmers, scaling clean, affordable, renewable energy, providing better product information to customers, investing in communities. Among these, addressing human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains stands out as a key material issue for Walmart.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Walmart engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Advisory councils
Community leaders
Government leaders

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Walmart engaged with its stakeholders through dialogues, working sessions and surveys, which included interviews and a 1,750-respondent survey.

What actions were taken by Walmart to address human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains?

In its 2017 Global Responsibility Report Walmart reports that it took the following actions for addressing human trafficking in seafood and other supply chains:

  • Promoting responsible recruitment practices
  • In FY2017, Walmart joined the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, and will continue working with other stakeholders to promote responsible recruitment practices in the global supply chain. Walmart is also a member of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which announced a resolution in January 2016 to address forced labour as an industry priority. The CGF brings together over 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers in the consumer goods industry to create positive change across the retail industry. Walmart also participates in CGF’s Social Sustainability Committee, which works to drive global collaboration in identifying and tackling key social sustainability issues for the industry.
  • Developing a training marketplace
  • Asda, Walmart’s business in the UK, supports Stronger Together, a multistakeholder initiative that aims to reduce the risk of human trafficking, forced labour and other hidden third-party exploitation of workers in the supply chains of UK companies. Stronger Together provides downloadable resources for employers, labour providers, workers and worker representatives.
  • Promoting compliance with labour standards
  • Walmart participates in the Seafood Task Force, an initiative established by a group of seafood processors, feed producers, buyers, retailers, government representatives and nongovernmental organisations collaborating to address issues concerning labour conditions and illegal fishing in Thai seafood supply chains. The group’s board of directors includes a representative from Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing organisation.
  • Investing in innovation and tools
  • The Walmart Foundation has been awarding, over the past years, grants to International Justice Mission (IJM) and Issara Institute to develop a comprehensive set of data, and analytics and innovative tools to assess the nature and prevalence of forced labour and trafficking in the Thai seafood sector. In FY2017, a new $2 million, two-year grant from the Walmart Foundation helped IJM apply casework and criminal analytics to end impunity for traffickers in the Thai fishing industry. The Walmart Foundation grant to Issara Institute is also helping it to use analytics, technology and collaborations to reduce the risk of slavery across global supply chains, by elevating worker voice though education and access to hotlines. Additionally, the Walmart Foundation awarded $2 million to Polaris Project, a nonprofit organisation that works to disrupt human trafficking by equipping key stakeholders and communities with tools to identify, map and eliminate trafficking networks. Polaris is working with Consejo Ciudadano, a Mexican nonprofit organisation operating a crisis hotline, to be better able to track and respond to reports of trafficking.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 409-1 Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor


Disclosure 409-1 Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Elimination of forced or compulsory labor


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Walmart, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:




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