Is Human Trafficking Awareness Enough?

Slavery is nearly inevitable in the supply chains of the products we buy. The good news is that not all companies are shying away from this issue. In fact, the last several months have seen the emergence of several new efforts, including the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking and Walkfree, to encourage brands and corporations to take stand against slavery.

In the corporate context,there is a wide discrepancy in how supply chain experts perceive human trafficking, often applying the narrowest definition. Auditors may not spot the trafficked person who is compelled because of a recruitment debt unrelated to the factory manager. They may also not identify the worker subtly threatened by a factory manager but who works or travels off site and has physical mobility. Without a clear understanding of the complexities to human trafficking, even brands at the forefront of fighting this issue may not always have the expertise to identify and prevent slavery among all their suppliers.

Supply chains can be a convoluted maze.  Brands already looking beyond voluntary codes of compliance have a unique opportunity to reassess whether their social auditing processes and corporate policies are designed to actually identify and prevent human trafficking.

With 27 million people enslaved in the world, basic human trafficking awareness is insufficient to make a dent in such an enormous human rights issue. At its best, awareness sparks action. Corporate leadership is becoming more aware of the issue and its inherent risks to their brands. From there, supply chain professionals are perfectly positioned to transform awareness into action. Voluntary codes of compliance and the status quo social auditing strategies just aren’t enough to truly address human trafficking. Meaningful solutions can be achieved only by understanding the considerable complexities often overlooked in human trafficking and implementing comprehensive tools to identify and prevent it. True impact lies with brands that lead the private sector and their industries not just with positions, but also with action-driven policies.

Learn more at Kavitha Sreeharsha’s and Kelly Heinrich’s Huffington Post article: It’s Human Trafficking Prevention Month, But Is Awareness Enough?

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