President Obama declared January to be National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. While this a broad call to action, how can Chamber members be more aware and take action?
First, learn the basics. Human trafficking is compelling someone into work or commercial sex through whatever means necessary, physical or psychological. It’s happening worldwide, nationwide and in Arlington on a total scale of 27 million. 78% is labor trafficking and 22% is sex trafficking. Men and women, boys and girls from factories to agriculture and janitorial services to construction. The Global Freedom Center’s slideshow will give you a good sense of how, why and where this happens. We also provide custom training on how to identify and prevent trafficking.
Second, be aware of the risks that human trafficking presents to your business: Safety, particularly when there is gang involvement; Legal, both civil and criminal liability; Compliance, for federal contractors, retailers and manufacturers; Profitability, when you have to replace a liable contractor; and Reputation, when word gets out.
Third, consider getting help from the Global Freedom Center to assess and mitigate risk through revamping policies, practices and training. Each industry and business will have unique needs. For example:
- Hotels – Traffickers have used hotels as venues for child sex trafficking so hotel managers, front desk, housekeeping, security and other staff should know what to look for and report suspicious behavior.
- Grocery stores – Traffickers were prosecuted for the labor trafficking of men and women cleaning offices and grocery stores at night so look out for the labor practices of any contracted labor. If you source locally, look into the labor practices at the farms.
- Construction companies – If you work with labor brokers, recruiters or other contractors to supply you with labor, ask a lot of questions and check in with the workers themselves.
- Restaurants – The majority of trafficking victims in the United States have been in agriculture so do what you can to know more about where the food comes from that you are purchasing as well as the hands that harvested and packaged it.
- All businesses – Consider the types of contractual services you use and how you can minimize risk because human trafficking has occurred in ordinary business services such as landscaping, security, IT, call centers, janitorial services, and travel services.
- Nonprofits – Consider whether the clients you serve are at risk for human trafficking. Do you have appropriate screening and referrals in place?