How Workplaces Can Fight Human Trafficking

How Workplaces Can Fight Human Trafficking

I imagine most of us do not give human trafficking a second thought, until we travel through an airport and see the posters promoting the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1 (888) 373-7888). But it exists, and whether we believe it or not, it’s in our communities. Of course, HSI cares about the safety of employees in many aspects of their lives. Safe from workplace hazards, like electrical safety or forklift safety. Safe from harassment, bullying, and discrimination. We also care about society, in general, and believe that all companies and their employees can help fight human trafficking by learning how to recognize the signs and properly intervene.

How often do you get your nails done or stay in a hotel? Or are you in charge of hiring the companies responsible for the teams of people taking care of the landscaping, working your construction site, or cleaning your workplace at night? These are some of the common areas that employ forced labor.

What is Human Trafficking?

The most widely used definition of human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of the threat, or by use of human force, or other forms of coercion, of abduction, or fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. That’s a long, wordy definition, but it indicates the many ways these victims can be exploited.

Notice we are not just talking about sex trafficking. Other common types include domestic servitude, agricultural work, manufacturing, hotel services, construction, hair and nail services, prostitution, and exotic dancing. This is modern slavery, and it exists in the United States.

Who Are the Vulnerable Populations?

Human trafficking victims can be foreign citizens or Americans. Human traffickers prey on these groups because they are exposed, unprotected, and susceptible to the trafficker’s tactics.

How Can My Workplace Help to Prevent Human Trafficking?

Organizations need to decide what kind of culture they want to nurture, while considering their ethical and moral values. Here are a few steps to take:

Communicate with Employees. If you are a business owner or manager, it’s important that you are aware of any state laws, regulations, or initiatives that apply to your workplace, regarding human trafficking. Many states are beginning to require businesses to build human trafficking awareness with their employees and patrons.

Scrutinize Supply Chain. As a business owner, you research and select vendors for a variety of products to support your business. Be diligent in your discovery process, to ensure your approved vendor list does not include any organizations who participate in or look away from human trafficking.

Recognize Indicators. Help your team understand the red flags and warning signs, as well as the questions to ask potential human trafficking victims, if given the opportunity. This is not an exhaustive list; it’s simply meant to get you thinking. Questions might include:

Know How to Report. If you believe someone may be the victim of human trafficking, you should report it immediately. You can call local law enforcement at 911. Or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24 hours a day, at 1-888-373-7888.

Be a Responsible Citizen.

The issue is bigger than all of us. We all need to work together to solve it. Victims of human trafficking are people. They are someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, or friend. The first step is learning more about the issue, the warning signs, and what actions to take.

Potential Training from HSI

If you recognize the need to take some action in your workplace, HSI has courses in our Business Skills Library that can support these efforts. These courses include:

It’s important to note our Florida Human Trafficking content has been added to an approved list of vendors by the Florida Licensing Bureau, the Division of Hotels & Restaurants, and are approved for use in public lodging establishments.

Part of our mission at HSI is making companies and communities smarter and safer. We are expanding the definition of safety to go beyond the traditional definition that focuses on workplace hazards and OSHA standards. We also want to keep people safe from bullying, discrimination, and harassment. We want to help you create a culture of psychological safety, so people feel safe speaking up, pitching new ideas, or making mistakes. We want to keep people safe from cybersecurity threats, identity theft, and more. If you would like to learn more about our approach, please contact us.

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