CCLA appoints Dame Sara Thornton to accelerate anti-slavery work

9 November 2022

CCLA today announces the appointment of former UK independent anti-slavery commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton and ShareAction’s Dr Martin Buttle to bolster its sustainability team and further build expertise in modern slavery and labour standards to drive real-world change.

In her new role as Consultant - Modern Slavery, Dame Sara Thornton brings her considerable experience to accelerate CCLA’s Find it, Fix it, Prevent it initiative to tackle modern slavery in investee companies’ supply chains.  Following on from a highly successful career with the police, Dame Sara Thornton served a three-year term until April this year, as the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. She also currently holds the position of Professor of Practice in Modern Slavery Policy at Nottingham University Rights Lab, where she focuses on research in the area of prevention, business responses, supply chains, and the role of the financial sector in tackling modern slavery.


Dame Sara Thornton, said:

As anti-slavery commissioner, I observed the launch of CCLA’s Find it, Fix it, Prevent it initiative, and was both impressed with CCLA’s ambition and indeed with what the coalition of investors has been able to achieve thus far. As we all know there is a long way to go, but the Find it, Fix it, Prevent it programme continues to gather momentum including spurning a spin-off initiative, Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific. Finance is the lever that can move the entire global economy and investors in particular have a key role to play in eradicating forced labour across the globe.

While government has a responsibility to protect the people, business has a responsibility to respect the people. There is an ongoing debate between whether it is regulation and voluntarism by the private sector that are required to solve the issue of modern slavery. I firmly believe there is a need for both. If we look at other regions such as the United States and the European Union, they are moving fast on implementing various bans on goods made with forced labour. Investors are by their nature future-facing and must play an important role in urging companies to tackle the scourge of modern slavery.


Also joining CCLA is Dr Martin Buttle who is tasked with leading CCLA’s ‘Better Work’ stream focused on ensuring fair and sustainable working conditions for companies’ labour forces that are aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Joining from responsible investment charity, ShareAction, where he was Head of Good Work, Martin has a specialist background and extensive expertise in business, human rights and labour standards.


Peter Hugh Smith, CCLA Chief Executive said:

I am thrilled to welcome both Dame Sara and Martin to the CCLA team. This is about CCLA building an even more meaningful capability, strengthening our team of people that can make a genuine contribution to helping to solve problems in the real world. There is a lot of talk about sustainability in investing, but we really have to stop and ask ourselves, is what we are actually doing having a real-world impact? We really want to see other investors join us as signatories on Find it, Fix it, Prevent it to fight modern slavery and to get behind our other Better Work initiatives. At CCLA, we believe that healthy markets are underpinned by healthy communities and we call on the investment industry to collaborate to drive real-world change for everyone’s benefit.

Sustainability has been at the heart of CCLA’s investment process since its inception over half a century ago. Following on from our work with hotels to raise awareness and prevent child sex trafficking in 2012 and subsequent engagement work with investee companies and policy makers, in 2019, CCLA established Find It Fix It Prevent It, an investor collaboration supported by over £13.4 trillion of assets, aimed at combatting modern slavery in companies’ supply chains. CCLA has also successfully engaged with companies in its investment portfolio around various labour market issues including paying a living wage, addressing diversity and appropriate executive pay. Most recently CCLA, together with the Church Investors Group, wrote to 100 of the largest listed employers in the UK asking them what they are doing to support low-paid workers during the cost-of-living crisis.


Dame Sara Thornton

Dame Sara Thornton is pictured receiving an award for ‘Outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery’ from the Human Trafficking Foundation on 26 October in Speaker’s House, Palace of Westminster presented by Baroness Butler-Sloss, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Party Group on Modern Slavery and Trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation. 


Dr Martin Buttle


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