Home > Research in practice > I have 69 slaves working for me

I have 69 slaves working for me

Slavery result

I discovered recently that my family and I are responsible for 69 slaves working all over the world to have us dressed, fed, provided with electronics and games, covered with jewels and precious goods. Slavery Footprint allows you to estimate the number of people that are involved in manufacturing components you purchase based on your life style. Besides the way in which this estimation is done (the methodology section states that some of the weights are based on focus group analyses) it is quite interesting the main areas that contribute to my “unintentional slavery”. Children account the most, mainly for diapers and toys, but also dresses and medicine are rather critical. Cars and home are other two rather important sources of slavery. Interesting my “slavery supply chain” is concentrated in Asia (mainly China and India), but also Africa and (surprisingly Australia) are not new to this problem. If you take a few minutes to  go on the site it may be interesting for you to benchmark.

In general this site arises another sustainable issue: the social impact of supply chains. In a paper we presented at the annual meeting of the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) we analysed the issue of the trade-off among economic, environmental ad social sustainability. Some sustainability critical points are shared by several actors along the supply chain, thus  it is important to look at the whole chain when addressing such problems. However, environmental sustainability actions often provide benefits also on economical and social performance. On the contrary, social sustainability actions can negatively impact economical performance.

I consider the issue a complex one: it is out of question that slavery is something we all regret, but to which extent would you be willing to give away your tablet in order to improve your slavery footprint? Is there a real market potential for socially sustainable goods?


Golini, R., Kalchschmidt, M., 2011. Sustainability in the food supply chain: evidences from the Italian beef industry. POMS 22nd Annual Conference. Reno, Nevada, U.S.A. April 29 to May 2, 2011.



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