Human trafficking toolkit 2019


October 01, 2019


Human trafficking is a global problem affecting millions of people each year who are illegally lured into forced labor and sexual exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that human trafficking is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime, generating billions of dollars a year in illicit profit. All victims of trafficking share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.

Businesses today are increasingly global, meaning that it is no longer a matter of if a business will come into contact with human trafficking but when. So it is important to be prepared. Working together, businesses can draw on the following best practices to identify signs of human trafficking and put steps in place to stop it.

It’s not just good business practice, but it’s the right thing to do.


Understanding Risks

Use this toolkit to join the fight to stop human trafficking.

  • Survey suppliers and facility locations based on the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which highlights high-risk industries and country-specific risks.
  • Assess whether human trafficking indicators occur in firms or supply chains.
  • Develop goals and metrics to monitor activities. Objectives vary based on industry practices.



  • Develop training and awareness programs to identify and address weaknesses in supply chains. Training involves internal staff and external stakeholders partnering with nonprofits or federal, state, and local governments.
  • Establish policies prohibiting human trafficking in supplier selection procedures through a code of conduct. Policies apply to the company's employees, suppliers, subcontractors, and other business partners.
  • Utilize emerging technologies, which provide traceability, authenticity, and verification, to help map supply chains.
  • Employ certification procedures in third-party contracts to ensure that such businesses conduct ongoing due diligence. Periodic reviews offer an opportunity for the contractor and firm to supply feedback to strengthen business practices.
  • Examine the use of recruitment fees, which are fees paid to a third-party recruiter. Fees can be paid either by the worker or by the employer. When workers pay unreasonable fees, they could become vulnerable to debt bondage.
  • Activate third-party hotlines to provide access to a confidential system and/or dedicated internet/intranet website, enabling workers to report incidents without fearing retaliation.


Create a Communications Program

  • Publish a corporate social responsibility statement, which identifies the business' policies and actions regarding the prevention of human trafficking.
  • Involve partners by engaging with global, national, or local campaigns in collaboration with the media to promote awareness and support prevention programs. For example, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's
  • Blue Campaign produces a toolkit to educate employees in the hospitality industry.
  • Disseminate information internally regarding the company's policies and principles on human rights.


Trust but Verify

  • Establish verification procedures, which are considered best practices. Businesses reserve the right to monitor, review, and verify supplier compliance with the principles set forth by the supplier's code of conduct through third-party certifications or a responsible sourcing audit. If indicated, businesses implement a corrective action plan during the post-audit phase.
  • Audit programs to measure how suppliers live up to contractual commitments. Businesses may conduct unannounced audits as necessary. Audits include self-assessments, on-site inspections, document reviews, and worker and management interviews. They focus on risk indicators, such as the use of recruitment fees and an examination of labor conditions.


U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the Blue Campaign to raise public awareness and leverage partnerships in the hospitality industry to educate the public on how to spot signs of human trafficking and report suspicious activity.

U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State produces the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which divides the world into three tiers: (1) those that meet minimum standards outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 for addressing human trafficking, (2) those that don't meet such standards but are making an effort, and (3) those that are not meeting the standards and are not making an effort.

U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs releases Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor to address child labor and assess whether countries have made significant, moderate, minimal, or no advancement.


Responsible Business Alliance

(FORMERLY, THE ELECTRONIC INDUSTRY CITIZENSHIP COALITION) ratified a code of conduct that establishes standards for working conditions and ethical behavior in supply chains.

Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking

(GBCAT) is a forum for businesses to understand how forms of human trafficking affect their operations.


ERITE provides knowledge and tools to eliminate the most serious labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains.

Humanity United

Humanity United is a foundation dedicated to solving problems such as human trafficking and violent conflict.


A21 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking.

Human trafficking toolkit 2019