The role of business in preventing modern-day slavery

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Millions of people are victimized throughout the world—including the United States—and they can be found in restaurants, factories, fisheries, brothels, farms and homes. According to the state of California, trafficking represents a $32 billion industry, vying against drugs and illegal arms sales as the top international crime. International laws and rules to address human trafficking have been in place for decades, but new efforts are being made around the world to confront this terrible issue.

In the United States, laws and regulations have been passed or drafted that increase the requirements of businesses to address human trafficking in their operations and their supply chain. One example is California's Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (SB 657), which seeks to increase manufacturer and retailer transparency regarding their efforts, to address the issues of slavery and human trafficking. Recently, Executive Order 13627 on “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts (2012)” was signed. This led to the draft Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation (DFAR), which propose requirements on all federal contracts, with further requirements on contracts in excess of $500,000 or $1 million outside the United States.

Ashley Watson

Ashley Watson is senior vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer at Hewlett-Packard Company.

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