Pictures of people chained or cuffed and made to work on farms often conjure up at the mention of slavery. However, modern slavery can be difficult to identify and persists in all continents of the world at an alarming rate. According to Anti-Slavery Australia, almost 40.3 million people currently live in slavery.

Knowing what causes modern slavery is a critical step towards eradicating it. If we understand what causes modern slavery, we can know what to look for in our businesses and supply chains to help identify and prevent it. This blog post lists the top 5 reasons why modern slavery still thrives in our world today.

Top 5 Drivers of Modern Slavery

Enslaved people often have little or no freedom to select a vocation in the first place. This is often because of their modest social backgrounds. They cannot raise their voice against slavery as they rarely have any other means to survive. Some of the most common drivers for modern slavery include:

1. Poverty

According to Anti-Slavery Australia, approximately 780 million people continue to live below the poverty line all over the world. Despite continuous efforts from various economies to reduce this number, poverty still exists. It is one of the most impactful factors in driving modern slavery. Poverty leads to hunger, malnutrition, and limited access to basic services and education, and this often drives people to slavery.

2. Discrimination and marginalisation

Discrimination or marginalisation of people based on personal attributes can also make them susceptible to abuse. Such people may be exploited based on their gender, race, age, religious beliefs etc. Women, children, refugees, migrants, religious or ethnic minorities are more vulnerable to such exploitation.

3. Civil disruption and armed conflict

People fleeing war or armed conflict are at particular risk of modern slavery. Any form of civil disruption that displaces people can also expose them to exploitation. Already marginalised communities in such war-torn places often fall prey to forced labour networks.

4. Weak rule of law and impunity

Weak law enforcement or regulatory support against modern slavery can also lead to its persistence. In some places, corruption from inside local authorities and police departments also catapults into slavery. Without proper law enforcement, human traffickers can operate with impunity.

5. Natural disasters

In some cases, modern slavery might be increased due to the displacement of communities because of natural disasters. Such people often fall prey to false offers or might be forced into hazardous employment.

Ensure compliance with the laws

Laws require all organisations to follow a strict and no-tolerance policy towards modern slavery. Incidents indicating any form of human exploitation in an organisation or its supply chain would not only tarnish the reputation of that organisation but also incur financial penalties. Businesses also need to submit an annual report stating the actions they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their workplace.

Modern slavery or human exploitation awareness courses can help guide your employees on how to deal with existing or potential incidents in your workplace. Sentrient offers an array of workplace compliance courses to help businesses across Australia train their employees to be more vigilant towards human exploitation.


Modern slavery is not limited to one part of the world. Underprivileged sections of society often fall victim to physical or financial exploitation globally. To prevent this practice in your organisation or supply chain, all your employees must be trained to identify and understand the reasons that cause it. Sentrient helps train your employees using a quick and streamlined online modern slavery course. Contact us to deploy this course for your workforce today!