January 31, 2012
Investors Team with Law Enforcement Professionals to Combat Sex Trafficking at Super Bowl
by Robert Kropp
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility members warn that child sex trafficking increases
during large sporting events, and engage with Indianapolis hotels to raise awareness of the risk at
this year's Super Bowl.
This year's Super Bowl, featuring the New York Giants and the New England Patriots in a rematch of
their classic battle in the 2008 game, promises to be one of the highest-profile sporting events of
the year. "The event has also played out as a corporate extravaganza that, for many travelers, is a
weeklong business trip with expense account spending on a truly epic scale," the New York Times reported.
Sadly, the excitement
surrounding the Super Bowl and other major sporting events is too often accompanied by expressions
of the darkest side of human behavior. According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), "Traffickers in
the sex trade are gearing up for their most profitable weekend of the year. Because trafficking is
reported to peak at large sporting events and hotels are the prime venue for prostitution,
shareholders have initiated a multi-pronged campaign to keep hotels trafficking free during Super
Bowl weekend and beyond."
Specifically, ICCR members "are once again coordinating with
local law enforcement to raise awareness of the risks of child sex trafficking during the Super
Human trafficking permeates the fabric of the global economy. According to the US
State Department's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, an estimated 12.3 million people are victims
of forced labor and human trafficking, and 1.2 million children are trafficked every year,
primarily for sexual exploitation and child labor. Global annual profits made from trafficking are
estimated to be $31.6 billion.
For ICCR, its focus on human trafficking in general and
child sex trafficking in particular is not new. Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), an ICCR
member, led investor coalitions that engaged with hotel chains in advance of the 2010 World Cup in
South Africa and last year's Super Bowl in Dallas.
And last week, ICCR collaborated with
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible
Investment on a letter to House
majority leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor, urging them to support passage of the Business
Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (HR 2759). The bill requires companies with more than
$100 million in annual worldwide gross receipts to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) on their efforts to identify and address human trafficking in their supply chains.
The letter states, "This innovative and forward-looking bill reflects the realities of the
marketplace, which increasingly requires that companies be sensitive to social and ethical issues,
including human rights, in their operations and global supply chains, and create human rights
policies, as well as due diligence processes to evaluate, monitor, and strengthen these policies."
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who introduced the bill, said, “I thank the socially
responsible investment community for their commitment to ending slavery and human trafficking
around the globe. My bill, H.R. 2759, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act,
will help raise awareness for consumers who want to know where and how their goods are being made.
Human trafficking is the slavery of the 21st century. We must use every tool available to help
these men, women, and children around the world who are enslaved. It is my hope that more companies
will address human rights abuses in their supply chains.”
In advance of this year's Super
Bowl, according to Sr. Ann Oestreich, the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and
Michigan (CCRIM) engaged with 220 hotels belonging to major chains that are located within a
50-mile radius of Indianapolis, the site of this year's Super Bowl.
At a telenews event
held yesterday, Sr. Oestreich said that the coalition has trained 45 of its members to contact the
hotels and ask them four questions: did they provide training for their staff around the issue of
human trafficking; did they have programs in place for their staff should they observe anything
that might suggest that a child in their hotel might be a victim of sexual exploitation or
trafficking; were they aware of local agencies and resources that are prepared to respond to
incidents of trafficking; and would they be willing to make information about trafficking available
to their staff and guests.
"We did follow-up calls to all the hotels and were able to make
contact with managers or knowledgeable persons at 200 of the hotels," Sr. Oestreich said. "We found
out that 45 hotels had conducted training sessions or were planning to prior to the Super Bowl.
Seven hotels requested help in setting up training, and 99 hotels requested information."
"We're extremely pleased that so many hotels wanted material that we could provide to assist
them," she added.
Also attending the telenews event was Rev. David Schilling, the director
of human rights for ICCR, who said, "This issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery needs
to be addressed at the local, at the national, and at the international level. We have been
engaging with companies to adopt policies and practices that get down to the hotel level."
"Increasingly, consumers are concerned about this issue, investors are concerned about this
issue, and local communities as well," Schilling continued.
Schilling pointed out that
ICCR and Calvert Investments recently
published Investor Guidance
for companies to comply with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which went into
effect on January 1st. The Guidance encourages companies "to go beyond minimum compliance" with the
law through "programmatic commitments and public reporting that reflects a holistic human rights
framework that seeks to address all forms of trafficking."
Schilling spoke highly of the
efforts of local law enforcement officials "to address the issue in very concrete terms in
At the telenews event, Deputy Attorney General Abigail Kuzma, the director
of Consumer Protection for the Indiana Attorney General's office, described some of the efforts by
law enforcement officials to end human trafficking. The National Association of Attorneys General
has established the Pillars of Hope initiative, which seeks to raise awareness of human
trafficking, implement anti-human trafficking laws in all 50 states, and mobilize community support
to identify and protect the victims of the practice.
Kuzma also pointed out that Indiana
Governor Mitch Daniels had just signed into law a bill which makes recruiting, transporting, or
harboring anyone younger than 16 for prostitution a felony punishable by up to 50 years in prison.
Mark Regier of Everence Financial,
an Indiana-based provider of financial services and an ICCR member, also spoke at the event.
"As an institutional investor concerned about the impact our investments have in this country
and around the world, we believe that human trafficking presents a serious business risk to
companies," Regier said. "It also presents a risk to communities like Indianapolis."
Everence was part of the shareowner team, led by Mercy Investment Services, that persuaded Delta
to become the first American airline to sign the EC-PAT Code of Conduct on child sex trafficking. In November,
Wyndham Worldwide joined the growing number of major hotel chains that have signed The Code. Other
US organizations that have signed The Code include Global Exchange's Reality Tours, Hilton
Worldwide, and Carlson Companies.
Schilling also reported that ICCR is coordinating with
UK-based investors in advance of the upcoming London Olympics to guard against labor and sex
trafficking during the games.