September 23, 2021
Human trafficking is a global issue that impacts many industries and the business community at large. Traffickers are especially reliant on transportation and hospitality for moving, controlling, and delivering victims for commercial sex or forced labor. Thus, workers in these sectors serve a critical role as the first line of defense for victims.
Here’s how businesses in transportation and hospitality are working with the government and NGOs to end human trafficking.
Businesses Must Work in Partnership to Stop Human Trafficking
Businesses play an important role in stopping human trafficking and protecting victims, said Stefan J. Marculewicz, shareholder and co-chair of the Business and Human Rights Practice Group at Littler Mendelson P.C. However, businesses cannot do this work alone.
“[Businesses] need to partner with governments and non-governmental organizations,” he explained. “Employers are leading the effort to raise awareness and education related to fighting human trafficking, in conjunction with [these] organizations.”
DHS’s Blue Lightning Initiative Empowers the Aviation Community to Take Action
To help increase awareness of human trafficking in the aviation industry, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched the Blue Lightning Initiative.
“[The Blue Lightning Initiative] is designed to train the aviation community, from industry [leaders] to individuals who go out to airports, on how to recognize suspected instances of human trafficking and how to report it,” said Karinda L. Washington, executive director of social impact and campaigns at DHS.
The initiative currently has 71 partners, including several airlines and airports — and as of 2020, its first State Department of Transportation (DOT) partner: Hawaii.
“In addition to the training that we’re offering to all employees [and] our various aviation partners, this partnership … will establish the DHS tip line as the State of Hawaii’s primary reporting tool,” explained Lynn Araki-Regan, first deputy director of Hawaii’s DOT Administration.
Marriott’s New Training Will Be Shared with the Broader Hospitality Industry
Marriott International is leading industry training for human trafficking, beginning with updated training modules that reflect the current world we live in.
“Our new training incorporates aspects of [COVID-related] higher-tech and lower-touch operating environment and explains how associates can still recognize human trafficking, even in mobile check-in experiences,” said Abbe Horswill, senior manager of Human Rights and Social Impact at Marriott International.
Horswill added that the updated training includes current knowledge and best practices as they have evolved over time.
“Previous trainings have really focused on potential indicators, providing a long list of signs to spot,” she noted. “But we now recognize that many of these warning signs are really nuanced and require some additional explanation in order to resonate with learners.”
These updated modules, with separate learning paths for both management and non-management professionals, will be donated to the broader hospitality industry in the upcoming months.
The Transportation Private Sector Is Joining the Fight Against Human Trafficking
Many transportation companies in the private sector are taking action to keep their entire staff informed and empowered to join the fight against human trafficking.
Delta Air Lines has used their brand to raise awareness of human trafficking and support its victims, according to Meg Taylor, the company’s VP and chief litigation and employment counsel.
“Partnership is critical to both raising awareness and making a difference,” she stated, citing collaborations with organizations like Polaris, the Blue Lightning Campaign, and nonprofits such as Wellspring Living and Freedom United.
Elisabeth Barna, EVP of industry affairs of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), stressed the importance of training and raising awareness of trafficking across all individuals involved in the industry.
In addition to debuting a new training film for the trucking industry, Barna reported that the ATA will still be pushing their man-to-man campaign, which focuses on professional truck drivers sharing one important message with other drivers.
“If there’s no buyer, there’s no victim,” Barna stressed, “and then there’s no sex trafficking.”