This Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, we ask that you take time to reflect on those affected by this affront to human dignity. The Day was set aside by the U.S. Senate in 2007, as a day of action against slavery globally. Approximately 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, an umbrella term used to describe the activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service. It includes practices such as coerced sex work by children, forced labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and forced child labor.
“Human Trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.” Pope Francis, 2014
CBIS has long worked with companies across a variety of sectors in our portfolios to encourage them to adopt comprehensive, transparent, and verifiable human rights policies for their operations and those of their business partners and suppliers to detect and prevent trafficking. This can help companies avoid business interruptions, protests, bad press, and tarnished reputations.
Here are just some examples of our work:
* To fight against slave labor in Brazil in the steel sector, CBIS joined members of The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility six years ago, calling for audits of suppliers.
* With the palm oil sector in Indonesia being rife with human trafficking, we pressed Campbell’s Soups to create policies to ensure that workers are hired according to ethical practices.
* At our urging, Thai Union and Target took steps to stop slave labor in the seafood supply chain in Thailand and to help to end recruitment by unscrupulous labor brokers.
*To stop exploitation at sporting events, CBIS was a leader engaging with companies in advance of the World Cup in 2010, The Super Bowl in 2011, and the London Olympics in 2012.
*We have been a leader among investors to build support for corporate focused legislation, such as the Business Transparency on Trafficking & Slavery Act, introduced in 2014, which would require companies to publicly report on steps they are taking to combat human trafficking.
*CBIS has released several issue reports, such as Human Trafficking: The Supply Chain Challenge, to highlight our work with companies to help them protect workers and reduce risk; it also provides ideas on how Catholic organizations can help.