The American Bar Association and Arizona State University’s McCain Institute and School of Politics and Global Studies have issued the first study of its kind: examining Fortune 100 companies for policies regarding human trafficking and forced labor. The study also looked at whether or not Fortune 100 companies had policies regarding conflict minerals (what are often referred to as “blood diamonds:” gems and minerals mined by children and/or forced labor.) The study is entitled, “How Do Fortune 100 Corporations Address Potential Links To Human Rights Violations In A Globally Integrated Economy?”
According to a summary inThe Wall Street Journal, the study itself had a straightforward approach:
[The policies] had to be available on the company website or by searching for them on Google. The objective was to go as far as the public would in finding the company policy, said Linda Hayman, of counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP who is co-chair of the American Bar Association’s task force on human trafficking. It also didn’t judge the company’s conduct in relation to the policy, she said.
The majority of companies studied are doing well:
Over half of all Fortune 100 companies (54 percent) have publicly available policies on forced labor and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) have policies on human trafficking. Of the Target Group companies, over three-fourths (76 percent) have publicly available policies on forced labor and two-thirds (66 percent) have policies on human trafficking.
Not all the companies studied had any business concerns with conflict minerals, but 43% of the companies studied did have policies in place, mainly in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act. Almost all companies studied (95 percent) have policies regarding supply chain monitoring for trafficking, labor and/or mineral issues.
Companies seem to be lagging in remediation issues; very few companies have policies regarding individual remediation in cases of trafficking or forced labor issues. Linda Hayman, of counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and co-chair of the American Bar Association’s task force on human trafficking, explains that remediation may be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and a “one size fits all” policy is not always the best idea.
Professor Daniel Rothenberg of Arizona State University led the study, and remarked that while some corporate policies were the result of legislation, most of the policies were driven by corporate responsibility. Cindy McCain, who serves as co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, calls the study “a milestone” and says it shows that awareness of human trafficking continues to grow, and formal steps are being taken to end it.