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No ethical CEO would ever imagine that their corporation was party to any efforts to support Human Trafficking. This reprehensible act robs individuals of their dignity and freedom. Yet, unbeknownst to many business leaders, their company may be unintentionally complicit in this awful activity. Combating human trafficking requires private sector engagement and focus on prevention. Although a number of companies have taken steps to develop strong compliance programs throughout their supply chain to prevent trafficking, these programs are not yet routinely developed at many companies.
The private sector no longer has an option to sit on the sidelines in this crucial battle. Previously, states such as California have begun stepping in to mandate action. This state activity is a solid start to increasing private sector awareness and compliance, but more is needed to ensure engagement and commitment to address potential issues.
The federal government is taking steps to expand the scope of employers mandated to comply with requirements and increase awareness of the issue. Last week, President Obama issued an executive order ensuring a new level of engagement by government contractors by requiring them to develop a compliance program and take other steps to prevent human trafficking. Like the Executive Order requiring federal contractors to participate in E-Verify (Executive Order #13465), the new Executive Order is significant in many ways and will likely help drive compliance policies throughout the private sector.
In particular, once the Executive Order is fully implemented, federal contractors will be required to create a compliance plan for particular contracts, certify their compliance with the plan, and ensure that the compliance plan flows down to their subcontractors.
The compliance plan must include the following:
While many of these requirements may seem commonsense, preparing a meaningful plan and addressing the issues with subcontractors can take time (and, in some instances, may result in replacement of subcontractors). Failing to comply with the order can lead to negative publicity and debarment from federal contracts.
With a new government fiscal year approaching and a short regulatory implementation date, government contractors should not wait to start addressing these new requirements. Guidepost Solutions is well suited to assist government contractors in establishing their anti-trafficking compliance programs. Drawing from our team of former leaders and agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that investigates the majority of human trafficking cases, Guidepost Solutions can assist with training, risk assessment, subcontractor monitoring and issue resolution.
Ms. Wood was previously the Director/Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the law enforcement agency with a primary responsibility of combatting human trafficking as well as oversight of the inter-agency Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center. Ms. Wood is also a Liaison to the ABA Task Force to Prevent Trafficking in Persons.”
Julie Myers Wood is chief executive officer for Guidepost Solutions LLC. She focuses on regulatory compliance and investigative work with significant experience as an independent monitor.