Corporate Responsibility: Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Policies

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 02, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Back in January, we answered the question: how can lawyers help combat human trafficking? The answer was awareness: learning about the problem itself, discussing it with business clients (especially those who have supply chains), ensuring that their legal services aren't used to further trafficking activities, and if necessary, dropping clients who refuse to conduct business legally and ethically.

Meanwhile, industry-wide, organizations like the American Bar Association were pushing for more stringent laws and increased awareness.

We left in-house attorneys out of the conversation, but the ABA didn't. Today, they released a report that shows that the majority of Fortune 100 companies have policies on human trafficking and forced labor in place -- an encouraging sign for corporate responsibility and those companies' in-house legal departments.

Fortune 100's Encouraging Policy Numbers

The study, conducted jointly by the ABA, ASU McCain Institute, and the ASU School of Politics and Global Studies, showed that 54 percent of all Fortune 100 companies have publicly available policies addressing human trafficking and 66 percent have policies on forced labor.

Even more encouraging: when the sample is limited to companies with supply chains (as opposed to banks and insurance companies), where forced labor and trafficking is more likely to be an issue, nearly two-thirds of the 79 companies in this smaller group had a trafficking policy and more than three-quarters had a forced labor policy.

Another great sign: more than one-third of the Fortune 100 had conflict mineral policies (or 43 percent of the smaller group), an impressive percentage considering fewer of these mega-corporations deal with conflict minerals.

How About You?

Does your company have policies that address human trafficking, forced labor, and conflict minerals?

If you're looking to adopt these policies, the ABA adopted the "ABA Model Business and Supplier Policies on Labor Trafficking and Child Labor," a model set of policies that you can use as a starting point when drafting your company's own policies.

Not only is it a good move for corporate responsibility, but it's the right move ethically for you as well -- remember that we have a duty not to use our abilities to advance illegal activity, and while human trafficking and forced labor may not be illegal everywhere, do you really want your company to play a part in advancing those activities?

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