How to End Labor Trafficking: Go after the Supply Chains
– By Mitzi Perdue
Imagine for a moment that you’re CEO of a big U.S. manufacturing company. Things have been going really well. People love your brand, your workforce is loyal and engaged; financially, it looks as if you and your company have never been better off.
Happy days, right?
But maybe not.
You may have an invisible vulnerability that: A) is causing untold grief, and B) could mean a severe reputational hit to your company and everything within it you care about.
Five or six layers down in your supply chain, you may unknowingly be responsible for using trafficked or forced labor. The suppliers who are able to get you those cheap, raw materials, or who can assemble the subcomponents so inexpensively, may in fact be able to because they’re using slave labor.
According to the United Nations, there are 40 million enslaved people in the world. Using slave labor is so profitable for organized crime, that it’s a source of revenue that parallels the sale of narcotics and illegal weapons.
How can you check on the labor practices of people so far removed from your business? If you and your team were to make the effort to go to the sometimes remote areas of the world where your supply chain originates, you may still find nothing. The traffickers are motivated, skilled, and practiced at hiding their actions. They’re often not caught in the act by companies.
How to Find What’s Really Going On
Counter Human Trafficking Compliance Solutions’s (CHTCS) Chief Operating Officer, Lt. Col. James Wiley, and Special Advisor, David Myers, have the answer for you. Their goal is to disrupt human trafficking by helping large corporations and small companies discover vulnerabilities in their supply chains.
“The majority of time,” says Myers, “an individual company doesn’t know the extent to which the chocolates or threads or dyes in their supply chain come from forced or trafficked labor.”
Myers’s approach is to help you analyze your vulnerability before there’s a legal or public problem. “It’s better to help you find possible risk and help you to get ahead of the problem rather than having to react.”
By the time someone points out slave labor in your supply chain, and you have to shut down a facility or a mine, all the workers are back out in the labor pool and likely to be taken advantage of further. Meanwhile, you’re up against disruption in your supply chain, and are now spending money on lawyers, time and resources for defending your reputation.
Given that it’s better to discover the problem before someone else does, how can Myers and Wiley help?
Unique Skills and Artificial Intelligence
Myers and Wiley bring unique skills and artificial intelligence technology to the game by analyzing supply chains and assessing a client’s risk, in order to minimize the possibility of slave labor used by vendors. “The technology we use at CHTCS is unique in so many ways. Companies that handle these supply chain risks in house often land on the ground and think they’re doing all the right things, and most often their review is going to be incomplete and wrong.”
That’s because the traffickers have every incentive in the world to disguise what they’re doing. They’re almost always warned ahead of time, and the workers often fear for their jobs, lives or even their families’ lives if they speak up.
When Myers and Wiley are engaged by a company, they start with a discrete and completely confidential questionnaire for the executive team in charge of the supply chain, to better understand the company’s goals, needs, and areas of risk.
Then they employ CHTCS’s AI-powered, data driven tool, used to manage all aspects of supply chain risk, called GRAT: Global Risk Assessment Technology. GRAT is an artificial intelligence, cloud-based, user-friendly tool that enables the collection and reporting of data from suppliers easily, for executives, their staff and suppliers. It is designed to be used with multiple other products on a single dashboard, putting relevant data and actionable information at the decision maker’s fingertips.
Often GRAT assessments will indicate that further investigation is needed at the supplier’s factories, and travel to remote areas is necessary. Myers, Wiley and their team of operators will actually go to potential areas of risk and perform an assessment without anyone knowing their coming, or that they’ve even been there. They use their years of experience in the military, special operations training and “…use all the skills and technology at our disposal…” in finding patterns.
They know how to find people, and they’re adept at finding money trails. They are able then, to provide companies with this information, “…so they can respond proactively.”
Using Myers, Wiley and their GRAT tool is a more efficient way of solving this problem, by focusing on eliminating the risks before they become a problem. You’d much rather be in the position of saying, “We found it and we fixed it,” than being publicly outed as someone who profits from slave labor, and endure a painful public relations disaster.
Contact David Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Author
Mitzi Perdue is a businesswoman, author, and Founder of Win This Fight, Stop Human Trafficking Now. She holds a B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University and a Master's from George Washington University. She's a past president of the 40,000 member American Agri-Women, and she was a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi. She was also a Commissioner for the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Her Scripps Howard column, The Environment and You, was for years the most widely syndicated environmental column in the U.S.
She is the founder and president of “Win This Fight! Stop Human Trafficking Now,” an organization that raises funds and awareness for other anti-trafficking initiatives.