The Presidential Seal

At a special session today of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, President Obama announced several new Administration policies to fight human trafficking. One of these, an Executive Order Strengthening Protections in Federal Contracts, ensures that goods purchased by the U.S. Government—the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world—are not tainted by trafficking via exploitative labor recruitment practices at any point in the production and supply chain. The Executive Order will apply to all federal contractors and subcontractors—both in the US and worldwide—and provides federal agencies with additional tools to foster compliance. This Order makes use of the key elements of the Verité Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Recruitment, done in partnership with ManpowerGroup, and reflects months of engagement by Verité with Administration officials.

Implementing the Executive Order—making the new rules a reality—is the sort of work Verité has been engaged in through its Help Wanted campaign and Fair Hiring Toolkit.

In President Obama’s words: “There are more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world… It ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name—modern slavery.”

“The President’s new Executive Order puts the power of the office behind finding a solution to the complex and rampant nature of human trafficking and slavery in our global supply chains,” says Dan Viederman, CEO of Verité and Schwab 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. “It’s an historic announcement, and deeply gratifying to those of us who have been working with The White House and multinational companies to protect vulnerable workers in this country, and around the world. We look forward to sharing our expertise about how to achieve the provisions set out in the Executive Order.”

Verité’s multifaceted work on supply chains and severe exploitation is also highlighted this week with the release of a series of in-depth reports outlining indicators of forced labor associated with 10 commodities in seven countries.

Verité’s deep understanding of supply chains and the links between vulnerability to forced labor in key commodities worldwide is reflected in these reports, investigating indicators of forced labor in the production of shrimp in Bangladesh; brazil nuts, cattle, corn, and peanuts in Bolivia; sugar in the Dominican Republic; coffee in Guatemala; fish in Indonesia; tuna in the Philippines; as well as on working conditions in the production of rubber in Liberia. Verité is also releasing a report on lessons learned during the research process. This research, first of its kind, clearly shows that indicators of forced labor are frequently found. It demonstrates that any company or brand sourcing these commodities, in these and similar locations, will serve its interests by investigating the working conditions to the ends of their supply chains.