Swedish companies want to manage trafficking issues, but little is being done

RealStars made a small survey among the 20 largest public companies in Sweden about their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work in trafficking issues. A key question was whether there exists any specific policy regarding purchase of sex and trafficking.

All the companies that responded to the telephone survey base their sustainability efforts on initiatives such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Global Compact and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. “It is the traditional ones,” says one of the CSR managers at one of the companies. The companies would obviously not support human trafficking in any way, but yet there was a lack of clear policies about buying sex and human trafficking in many of the large companies RealStars contacted. Many simply refer to their policy concerning human rights. One of the companies was currently revising its code and discussing the issue of buying sex. The company Boliden believed that if they were to encounter trafficking, as it applies to individuals and, for example, buying sex, they would uphold a zero tolerance policy. “There is no gray area.” Boliden has CSR programs addressing the issue so that their staff understands the policies in effect regarding sex trafficking.

We asked how different industries could operate with a proactive effort to prevent trafficking, and received different answers. Several companies responded that they need to have very clear communication, both within the company and externally with suppliers. At the same time, it is important for many companies to continue and deepen their work on this, especially when it comes to business travel. For example, one company believes that a clear travel policy is needed as an important measure to show that buying sex is not allowed during business travel.

All the companies we interviewed followed their ethical guidelines and codes albeit in different ways. Some followed only the guidelines that, for example, are found in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Global Compact and the ILO conventions, while others have training and internal audits that follow up on the work.

RealStars believes that the telephone survey is one of the first steps in raising awareness of the challenges of trafficking issues. The results show a need for more training, clear guidelines and a forum to discuss ethical issues, such as respect for human rights and the connections between buying sex and trafficking. RealStars has drafted policy proposals regarding sex purchasing and trafficking, which both large and small companies can take the support of in order to be clearer in their CSR work in that specific area.

Malin and Jonathan for RealStars