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How Employers Can Help Stop Sex Trafficking

Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking

By Jenny R. Holladay, Program Specialist, Region 10

Photo Mar BrettmanMar Brettman, Executive Director, Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST)What is it about 2 p.m. on a workday?  At that time, most of us are thinking about getting an extra cup of coffee or taking a break to re-energize.

But initial research suggests that 2 p.m. is also one of the most popular times for people to buy sex online.

And where are these people accessing online services? In our offices, businesses and workplaces. In fact, 80 percent of men caught buying sex from children in King County, Washington (Seattle area) are from the private sector. They work at a variety of jobs – IT, retail, accounting, manufacturing, transportation and so on.

Meanwhile many businesses are being used by the sex trafficking industry to promote or run their businesses. Think about banks, hotels, shopping malls (for recruitment of girls), even parking lots. Another study suggests that 63 percent of prostituted children and adults conducted business with their clients on company property.

That’s why Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) was founded – to address labor and sex trafficking.

Photo of Catherine ManneyCatherine Manney, Program ManagerOther than doing the right thing, why else should businesses care? Three words: Subway. Jared. Fogle. He was the spokesman for Subway who was arrested for soliciting sex with children. Employees or those associated with a company have the power to damage or destroy a business’s reputation and bottom line.

What can businesses do? BEST helps employers to:

  • Train and educate staff. After receiving BEST training, the percentage of hotel staff who identified cases of tracking went from 8 percent to 44 percent.   
  • Adopt policies prohibiting the use of company time and resources: No using company computers to search online. No buying sex on company time (especially employees on travel). 
  • Build a workplace culture that empowers employees to identify and report suspicious behaviors by colleagues, clients, and vendors.
  • And make a public commitment to be a leader against trafficking.

Law enforcement can’t do it all.  Stopping trafficking involves all of us – and all employers, public and private.

Follow ACF on Twitter for more program information and updates.

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