California once again blazes a new trail and sets an example for the United States and other nations to follow. This week California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new law that requires retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in California to publicly disclose on their websites the policies and efforts in place to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains.

The legislation applies to retailers and manufacturers with over US$100 million in worldwide gross receipts and will affect over 3,000 companies doing business in California. These companies represent approximately 87 percent of economic activity in the state, which is the 10th largest economy in the world.

The U.S. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons’ (TIP) most recent report states that the majority of slaves in the world today are engaged in agriculture and mining. Although it is a tip-of–the-iceberg figure, TIP recognizes 12.3 million people enslaved globally—more than ever before in history. The global average price of a slave is US$90.00.

This new law is one small step in a long journey. We hope it will enable a watershed in knowledge sharing and active consumer engagement to encourage pooling resources to get us closer to concrete measurable results in ending all forms of slavery.

At the opening plenary of the BSR Conference 2010, Emmy Award-winning actress and human rights advocate Julia Ormond and I will discuss the implications of this new legislation for all companies, and share with you manageable solutions for eradicating slavery in your company’s supply chains. As Julia says, “If we can go to the moon, if we can replace a heart, we can end slavery.”