Verité: Battling Exploitation with Awareness
Large companies frequently commit to strong ethical principles of conduct with regard to workers and working conditions in emerging countries, yet abuses and exploitation remain a persistent problem.
Of the 20.9 million people conservatively estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to be in forced labor around the world at any given time, two-thirds are victims of exploitation in private sector economic activities such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and services.
Human trafficking and forced labor generates an estimated $150 billion annually and another $20 billion is extracted from workers in lost wages, illegal deductions, and excessive recruitment fees. Forced labor, bonded labor, and human trafficking, also referred to modern day slavery, are crimes in virtually every country in the world and violations of international human rights law
Verité, a US-based NGO, has pioneered approaches by which companies understand and address workplace problems that are driven by labor migration. For this work Verité is recognized as a global leader in the area of forced labor and human trafficking. The Executive Order signed by President Obama in September 2012 that strengthened protections against trafficking in persons in federal contracts emerged from a collaboration between Verité and the White House, and was based on key elements of Verité’s Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Labor Recruitment.
In partnership with the Fetzer Institute, Verité has also examined how values such as love, forgiveness, and compassion toward workers can strengthen business performance and adherence to ethical standards.
The project is intended to reach vital new business audiences to build support for ethical performance globally. The work includes a video highlighting the causes and manifestation of modern day slavery that will be presented to global corporate audiences on an ongoing basis, as well as an expanded website and communication on forced labor through multiple channels.
The project builds on a legacy of success. Verité won the 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Schwab Foundation and the 2007 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. The organization works with large companies such as Walmart, Gap, Apple, Hewlett Packard, and The Walt Disney Company to eliminate labor rights abuses and increase ethical and social performance in global supply chains.
According to the president of Humanity United, "as a foundation committed to ending all forms of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, we are proud to not only support Verité's work, but to call them partners in a shared mission."
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Business Professions.