New study on the listed companies´ work against exploitation

Human trafficking is a global challenge and an urgent human rights issue, which is not getting enough attention at the moment. Companies in different branches can have a decisive effect here by cutting off access to products that are used by the sex industry. Companies don´t want to be associated with the sex industry either. A good way of getting started is that they can, by means of suitable measures, contribute to the United Nation´s goal of sustainability, regarding equality, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, the so-called milestone 5.2.

New study shows great need for revisions and knowledge in issues regarding trafficking
During the spring of 2019 RealStars has taken a big step forward, as we have carried out a study of stock-exchange listed companies, on what measures they have taken to combat sexual exploitation in connection with company business and business trips. Through spreading the results of the study, we hope we can increase interest and knowledge in the importance of working with this in the company´s sustainability program. The study shows that 80 per cent of the companies that were asked lacked guidelines relating to human trafficking for sexual purposes and prostitution. The study even shows that just one in five companies has clear guidelines in its codes of conduct or travel policy that the buying sex is forbidden on business trips. However, 75 per cent of companies see a risk of the purchasing of sex on business trips and 10 per cent of them see a risk connected with exhibitions/events. RealStars has done the study with project support from Jämställdhetsmyndigheten (The Department of Equality), with 100 stock-exchange listed companies on OMX, Nasdaq, as well as the big Swedish banks.

– Many have responded to the questionnaire and the next stage is that this contributes to having these points implemented as standard company policy, says Malin Roux Johansson, who is the initiator of “Business Against Trafficking”.

Buying sex on the business trip
The silence around the subject of buying sex is a worrying factor amongst workers in a company. Many people don´t know which stance the company has, if personnel suspect that that is happening, for example, on business trips. Lack of clarity creates worries amongst workers, and when the buying of sex takes place on a business trips, the company´s working environment is affected. In 2017, RealStars started a campaign entitled “Has your company taken a stance against the buying of sex?”. But in 2013 we already started “Business Against Trafficking” and have cooperated with businesses to support this with helpful measures, and to bring into existence guidelines to be integrated into the company practice. This issue is pertinent, as the study entitled “Prostitution in Sweden” shows that 80 per cent of all buying of sex by Swedes happens abroad, and one third of that on business trips.

Risk analysis for a complete picture
Every company must carry out a risk analysis and ensure that it takes responsibility, and in this way, creates a standard for dealing with and integrating questions of trafficking in their normal business. Therefore, we encourage companies to carry out a risk analysis specific to its branch and area of operation. RealStars has identified risks within certain branches as well as paid services, financial solutions, transport services, and communications and internet solutions. Some of the companies have become aware of these risks. The study shows that just three out of ten companies have identified risks associated to a direct or indirect contribution to human trafficking for sexual purposes and prostitution.

– The question of actively working against sexual exploitation is still uncharted territory with many companies, but progress has been made since we started to work with companies, in order to integrate questions of trafficking into lasting company procedure.

Please contact us at for support and practical help to integrate questions of trafficking into sustainability projects, or if you want to tell us about other companies that could do with help with the task.

The most important driving forces amongst the companies in our study to bring in anti-trafficking work and to oppose sexual exploitation, is to: to oppose offences against human rights (84%), to contribute to high work ethics (81%), to contribute to the United Nation´s sustainability goal 5:2 (67%), and to be an attractive employer (53%).

Link to the whole study (Swedish):