In the fight against human trafficking, industry plays a critical role. Whether it is empowering employees, working with suppliers, or engaging customers, we have the ability to make a serious impact on this global human rights crisis.
An estimated 21 million people are victims of modern-day slavery. This is an issue that affects men, women, and children globally. It can affect any sector, whether in agriculture, construction, electronics, manufacturing, retail, or in my area, travel and tourism. And any corporation can adopt strategies to help end the problem. Here are a few suggestions:
- Inspiring Leadership: If corporate leadership takes a stand to fight trafficking, it lights a spark throughout the company. Leadership has the ability to set the stage for anti-trafficking strategies and initiatives not only just within the company, but externally throughout an entire sector. When one corporate leader makes a bold move, others may follow to create a wave of change.
- Slavery-Free Supply Chains: Every supplier and vendor should be required to sign a contract saying that they will not knowingly engage in labor and/or sex trafficking.
- Training: Employee training programs highlight the issue of human trafficking and empower them to report suspicious activities to management and law enforcement. Many organizations work with corporations to assist with sector-specific training content, materials, and implementation.
- Philanthropy: Both management and employees can engage in philanthropic efforts to assist anti-human trafficking efforts. Companies can create employee campaign funds specifically designated to fight human trafficking. Corporate and family foundations also provide much-needed funding for anti-trafficking organizations.
- Volunteerism: Hosting corporate volunteer days or launching a company initiative personally engages employees in the fight against human trafficking. Corporations can reach out to their local anti-trafficking organizations in the community to determine the greatest local needs. Is it through delivering meals, hosting a clothing drive, or creating amenity kits for survivors? Or, can employee volunteers provide a skillset to help further the work of a local anti-trafficking organization?
- Educate Your Customer: How can a corporation spread further awareness on the issue of human trafficking? Involve customers in this cause. For example, the travel and tourism industry can educate customers to spot and report trafficking incidents through awareness language on travel itineraries.
- Public Policy Outreach: Work with government to create public-private sector initiatives around human trafficking.
- Partnerships: Partner with both public and civil society entities to see what pressing resources are needed. Corporations can make a lasting difference through a variety of means, and not necessarily just financial.
It will take a multi-tier and multi-sectoral approach to eradicate human trafficking. Through partnership, outreach, and community involvement, industry can create systemic and dynamic change in the war on human trafficking.
The World Economic Forum report, Hedging Risk by Combating Human Trafficking, is available here.
Author: Tammy Lee Stanoch is the vice president of corporate affairs at Carlson.
Image: A suspected victim of human trafficking prays at a government shelter in Takua Pa district of Phang Nga October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha