NEW YORK, Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a leader in socially responsible investing (SRI) for Catholic institutions, today called attention to the role that corporations can play in combating human trafficking in conjunction with National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day to raise awareness of the countless victims of human trafficking across the globe.
"Human trafficking" is an umbrella term for activities in which one person obtains or holds another in compelled service. Often described as a modern form of slavery, it can occur across borders or domestically. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are at least 12.3 million adults and children worldwide in forced labor, bonded labor, and forced prostitution, three of the major forms of trafficking.
Human trafficking is a priority issue for CBIS, one that the organization will soon highlight stateside with Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 in Arlington, Texas. The event is expected to be among the largest in NFL history, with approximately 100,000 people in attendance. Major events that attract large numbers of travelers, such as the Super Bowl, have the potential to be accompanied by an increase in human trafficking.
"A comprehensive anti-trafficking approach includes reducing demand for commercial sex by engaging many stakeholders. Changing a 'boys will be boys' culture requires that business owners, sports fans, and tourists be willing to stand up in traditional arenas, such as the bachelor party, the business trip, and yes, the Super Bowl, to call out and report trafficking," said Luis CdeBaca, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Ambassador-at-large, State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
"Human traffickers often hide in plain sight. Their crimes frequently go unpunished and their victims remain unaided because many consumers and companies don't know what to look for. As shareholders in several hotel chains, we began this past summer to raise awareness of the role that the tourism and hospitality industries can play in fighting this crime. Businesses of all kinds need to be aware that human trafficking poses serious risks to a company's reputation and bottom line," said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of SRI at CBIS.
As part of this effort, CBIS surveyed hotel chains and produced a report on the leaders and laggards on this issue around The World Cup in South Africa.
While the numbers are most likely underreported due to the clandestine nature of the crime, the Department of Education has received reports of human trafficking from all 50 states, including Texas. In advance of the Super Bowl, the state has created the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force to ensure law enforcement officials have the tools necessary to help victims and crack down on traffickers.
ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) has identified four steps that hotels can take to help combat human trafficking. Adopted from The Code, a hospitality industry tool for facilitating the protection of children's rights, the steps include:
- Adopting a corporate policy against sexual exploitation;
- Training staff to be observant to potential victims and, should they observe anything suspicious, making them aware to whom they should report such incidents;
- Building alliances with police, anti-trafficking organizations, and child welfare agencies; and
- Providing information to guests regarding national laws, hotline numbers to report potential incidents, and the penalties imposed for trafficking and the sexual abuse of children, reinforcing the fact that it is not accepted by the hotel.
"Only one major U.S. hotel – Carlson Companies, whose brands include Radisson Hotels and Country Inns & Suites – can be counted among the more than 900 travel and tourism companies worldwide that have adopted The Code. Carlson has long been a leader in fighting human trafficking. We are delighted that Hilton Worldwide recently applied to become a signatory as well," said Carol Smolenski, Director of ECPAT USA. "The lodging industry, while not responsible for these crimes, is well positioned to help prevent human trafficking by taking steps to stop the use of their hotels for these purposes."
"For some time now, we have been working to increase awareness among our frontline hotel employees about the issue of human trafficking," said Carlson Chairman Marilyn Carlson Nelson. "We know the best defense against these incidents is to enlist our employees as an army of eyes and ears, trained to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities."
"Shareholders are requesting that the travel and tourism industry in Texas play a vital role in addressing human trafficking in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. By knowing what to look for and how to respond, hotels and other tourist services can be instrumental in our fight against this grave injustice," said Rev. David M. Schilling, Director of Human Rights and Resources at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
"Given the threat of human trafficking posed by the large number of travelers expected at the Super Bowl, we will be contacting local hotels directly to find out what they are doing to prevent these unlawful activities. An exploitation-free Super Bowl will require action from all of us," said Sr. Susan Mika, Executive Director of The Socially Responsible Investment Coalition (SRIC), a Texas-based non-profit religiously sponsored organization with 30 years of service in the field of corporate responsibility.
Companies across all sectors are encouraged to review their supply chains, assess their business partners, and look at their own organizational practices to ensure that they are not inadvertently promoting human trafficking. There are a number of resources available to help companies, including: Luxor Implementation Guidelines to the Athens Ethical Principles - a Comprehensive Compliance Programme for Businesses, Human Trafficking and Business: An E-Learning course on How to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking, and Combating Forced Labour: A Handbook for Employers and Business.
Consumers also have the opportunity to join the fight against human trafficking. Five steps that consumers can take to help combat human trafficking include:
- Learning how to identify a victim of human trafficking. Tips for recognizing trafficking victims are available at the State Department's website;
- Reporting suspected trafficking crimes or getting help by calling the national toll-free National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888;
- Discussing human trafficking with friends, family and co-workers in order to raise awareness and learn from organizations knowledgeable on the topic, such as The Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking, The U.S. State Department Office to Combat Trafficking and The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking;
- Asking the companies that you do business with what they are doing to combat human trafficking. Recognize and support corporate leadership in this area; and
- Downloading a letter from CBIS' website to use when frequenting hotels that shares your concerns about human trafficking and highlights what hotels can do to prevent it.
For more information on CBIS, or to speak with Julie Tanner, please contact Carol Graumann at 973-732-3521 or [email protected].
About Christian Brothers Investment Services
Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) is a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing (SRI) with approximately $3.8 billion in AUM for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide, including dioceses, religious institutes, educational institutions and health care organizations. CBIS' combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS at www.cbisonline.com.
SOURCE Christian Brothers Investment Services