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Outland Denim Shortlisted for Anti-Slavery Award

Since its founding in 2011, Outland Denim has remained committed to fighting human trafficking and modern slavery. Now the Australian denim brand may be on the receiving end of international recognition for its efforts.

Last week, the Thomson Reuters Foundation announced its candidate shortlist for the 2020 Stop Slavery Award in the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) category, naming Outland Denim as one of three finalists for the award alongside the U.K.’s Alisco Laucuba workwear and Regenesys BPO, an ethical business outsourcing firm based in the Philippines.

Outland Denim founder and CEO James Bartle told Fashion magazine in July that he founded the brand based on his experience watching the movie “Taken,” in which an ex-CIA agent races to rescue his daughter from a human trafficking operation. Bartle was so moved by the plot, that he set out to combat the practice with his own business.

As of last year, Outland employed 65 employees in Cambodia with an emphasis on hiring workers who have been affected by slavery and human trafficking—each paid a living wage, according to Bartle.

Considering the purpose for which the denim label was founded, Outland Denim’s founder said he was honored the company was recognized for its anti-slavery efforts.

“To be shortlisted for this award holds particular significance for us, it represents exactly why Outland Denim was created,” Bartle said in a statement. “This award is a testament to the huge power small and medium-size businesses can have in eradicating forced labor and contributing to positive social change in vulnerable communities, while inspiring others in their field to do the same.”

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Since its founding in 2015, the Stop Slavery Awards have expanded, with six new categories announced for 2020 that awards journalists, grassroots organizations and NGOs for their work in the field of human trafficking and slavery prevention. Previous award winners include companies like Apple, Intel, Adidas and Unilever.

The award identifies industry leaders in corporate reporting, performance management, business partner engagement, risk assessment, investigation and remediation.

To create the shortlist, third-party firm Uplift Worldwide applies a specially developed decision matrix to assign a score to each submission on a scale of one to 10, based on current anti-slavery standards including the U.K. Modern Slavery Act and the 2016 Know the Chain Benchmarking Methodology.

The ultimate winner for each category of the Stop Slavery Award will be determined by a panel of judges including human rights activists, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, criminal lawyers and industry experts. These winners will be announced on Feb. 20 at the London offices of Baker McKenzie, a global law firm that helped develop the criteria for deciding the winners.