June 12, 2014
House Bill Calls for Corporate Disclosure of Human Trafficking Risks
by Robert Kropp
Investors issue statement in support of bill introduced this week that will require companies to
disclose policies addressing human trafficking in their supply chains.
Last month, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed five bills seeking to curb some
of the worst abuses associated with human trafficking. For the most part the bills focused on
domestic child sex trafficking, mandating that victims of the practice receive social services
instead of being prosecuted.
A bill introduced into
the House this week seeks "to require certain companies to disclose information describing any
measures the company has taken to identify and address conditions of forced labor, slavery, human
trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor within the company's supply chains." Introduced by
Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Chris Smith, the proposed bill focuses on two legal foundations
of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
A provision in the Dodd-Frank Act calls for
corporate oversight of supply chains to ensure that human trafficking abuses are not taking place.
And the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, published in 2011, asserts a
corporate responsibility to respect human rights and to address adverse impacts.
in 2012, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act requires companies with revenues of more
than $100 million doing business in the state to publish on their websites their policies
addressing slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. The bill introduced this week
would, according to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), "apply to all publicly
traded or private entities in every sector and, consequently, would have broad international
ICCR, along with Christian
Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) and Calvert Investments, issued a statement welcoming the bill,
stating "that companies with formal human rights due diligence processes are better positioned to
safeguard against these adverse human rights impacts and hence, better able to protect shareholder
In 2011, ICCR published a Human Trafficking
Investor Statement, which noted that many of its members “have been pressing businesses to
scrutinize their supply chains and operations to ensure that they are not inadvertently complicit
in human rights violations, specifically, violations associated with human trafficking and modern
day slavery, including child labor, forced labor and slave labor.”
And CBIS has been
particularly active in engaging with companies in the hospitality industries to ensure that the
issue of human trafficking at major sporting events will be addressed.
In the statement
published this week, the investors said, "Proactively addressing these risks can guard against the
negative publicity, business interruptions, potential lawsuits, public protests, and reputational
damage that may result from undetected human rights violations."
"The intractability and
pervasiveness of trafficking and slavery require strong legislation that moves beyond voluntary
disclosures and levels the playing field for all companies," the investors stated.
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