May 15, 2012

In Advance of London Olympics, U.S. and U.K. Investors Ask Corporations to Step Up Anti-Trafficking and Slavery Effort


In Advance of London Olympics, U.S. and U.K. Investors Ask Corporations to Step Up Anti-Trafficking and Slavery Efforts

NEW YORK – May 8, 2012 – Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a leader in socially responsible investing, and a coalition of U.S. and U.K. investors including Mercy Investment Services and NGOs have united to call on corporations to strengthen their focus against human trafficking and modern slavery in advance of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games taking place in London from July 27 to August 12.

The initiative focuses on the London tourism industry and key sponsors of the Olympic Games that may be at a higher risk for on-premise child and labor trafficking and that have the potential to help raise public awareness of these crimes.

On March 5, 2012, a coalition of 37 U.S.- and U.K.-based socially responsible investors representing $58 billion in assets under management, children’s rights- and investor-focused organizations sent letters to 32 companies, calling for immediate and transparent actions to train staff and suppliers to recognize and avoid the trafficking of workers into slavery, to monitor their supply chains, and to examine hiring and recruitment practices.

The coalition includes members of Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), and U.S. SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, FairPensions, Rene´ Cassin, The Code, and ECPAT-USA.

“While we anticipate inspiring examples of athleticism at The Olympic Games, that same dedication will be needed by Olympic sponsors and London area hotels to ensure that trafficking and slavery is eradicated within their spheres of influence. With the eyes of the world trained on the Olympic Games, these companies are well-positioned to take steps to prevent it. With the help of our allies in the U.K., our initiative can help focus attention on this global problem,” said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS.

Companies in the tourism sector that acknowledged the coalition’s letter include: Accor, Best Western, British Airways, Choice Hotels, Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotel Group, Starwood, Thomas Cook, and Whitbread. Olympic sponsors that acknowledged the letter include: Adidas, ArcelorMittal, BMW, Coca-Cola, John Lewis, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Next, Procter & Gamble, Rio Tinto, Sainsbury’s and Samsung. Non-responding companies will be noted in a future press release with general trend analysis of the responses.

“We are very heartened that the vast majority of companies that received the letter will be taking action. Companies that already have formal anti-trafficking programs in place are showing genuine leadership, including conducting training sessions for staff and for suppliers, to make sure human trafficking will not be a blight on this summer’s games and to help end this practice once and for all,” said Lee Coates, Chair of The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility.

To impact future Olympics, select members of the coalition sent a letter urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to require that all Olympic corporate sponsors, suppliers, contractors and host cities take concrete steps to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children and labor trafficking.

"We expect the IOC going forward to incorporate clear guidelines on trafficking and slavery that include public reporting of results. Our request is in line with the IOC’s Charter that includes support for environmental issues and sustainable development and with the requests made in our letters to companies," said Rev. David Schilling, director of Human Rights, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

This initiative comes against the backdrop of a private member’s bill introduced in the UK House of Commons in February by Fiona MacTaggart, Member of Parliament for Slough. The bill modeled on The California Transparency in Supply Chains Law would require retailers and manufactures in the UK to disclose the steps they are taking to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains.

“The coalition’s Olympic campaign demonstrates investor support for adequate corporate disclosures of policies on the identification and eradication of human trafficking and modern day slavery from business operations. We hope to see more investors work with the coalition to engage UK companies on this important human rights and reputation issue both in the run-up to and after the Olympic games.” said Louise Rouse, Director of Engagement at FairPensions.

To involve the public, the coalition has launched a Celebration Without Exploitation website that includes links to fact sheets, anti-trafficking materials to download and bring to hotels, and letter-writing campaigns to join, as well as tools for investors and companies that are working to end these egregious human rights abuses.

For more information about Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), please contact Rachael Fisher-Layne of JCPR, at 00 1 973-850-7318 or rfisher-layne@jcprinc.com; or go to http://www.cbisonline.com/.

About Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS)

CBIS is a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing (SRI) with approximately $4.0 billion in AUM for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide, including dioceses, religious institutes, educational institutions and health care organizations. CBIS' combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Currently celebrating its 40th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org.

About The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR)
ECCR is a UK/Ireland church-based investor coalition and membership organisation working for economic justice, human rights and environmental sustainability through research, advocacy and dialogue to encourage companies to meet the highest standards of corporate responsibility and transparency and by assisting faith communities and their members in upholding these standards through responsible and positive-impact investment. www.eccr.org.uk

About FairPensions
FairPensions is a registered charity that promotes responsible investment practices by pension providers and fund managers. Bringing together leading charities, trade unions, faith groups and individual investors, our aim is to catalyse a shift at at each level of the investment chain, so that Responsible Investment becomes the norm. FairPensions has a strong track record of persuading major investors to increase shareholder activism on environmental, social and governance issues. Today, FairPensions is recognised in the UK as the leading NGO that monitors and engages with the investment industry. www.fairpensions.org.uk

Messages to Pat Zerega - Director of Shareholder Advocacy,  Mercy Investment Services
# # #

 

 

Back to All News