In 2011, a Washington-based foundation hosted a series of meetings to examine the role that the business community might have in preventing human trafficking in local communities. A clear consensus emerged: Small to medium size businesses were central to the prevention and reporting of human trafficking prevention locally yet they were almost entirely absent in statewide and nationwide efforts and protocols.
Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) was launched in March 2012 to fill that gap.
Dr. Mar Smith Brettmann led the development of BEST by building strategic partnerships, developing resources and training to benefit businesses, and innovating new solutions. She built a partnership with End Human Trafficking Now (EHTN), the international NGO that holds the Athens Ethical Principles, a set of anti-trafficking principles for multinational corporations. With the help of EHTN, Dr. Smith collaborated with local and global business and government leaders to create and vet the Washington BEST Principles. The BEST Principles provide guidance for small and medium size businesses that want to help prevent human trafficking. Numerous small and medium size businesses have now signed on to the BEST Principles.
Dr. Brettmann built a key partnership with the American Massage Therapy Association of Washington. BEST co-hosted and participated in numerous awareness-raising and advocacy meetings with partners in this industry. In 2012, the AMTA-WA, BEST, and another partner, Washington Engage, successfully advocated for the passage of a key piece of legislation to prevent human trafficking in foot massage facilities. Since our efforts began, investigations into human trafficking and illegal massage in Washington have increased thanks to the diligence of legislators, the Department of Health, ICE, and law enforcement.
BEST forged another key partnership with the Washington Lodging Association. BEST and WLA have built exciting public-private collaborative partnerships between leaders in the local lodging industry, law enforcement, and victim service providers. In 2013, BEST and WLA hosted the first Inhospitable to Trafficking Training for hoteliers in King County, WA for the over 100 people in attendance. BEST has since partnered with local lodging associations and law enforcement to scale the Inhospitable to Trafficking Project to 4 additional counties in Washington state. We have trained over 320 people to identify and prevent trafficking in lodging establishments.
In 2013, BEST formed a partnership with the Organization for Prostitution Survivors and Goodwill Industries to develop new job training and job placement opportunities for survivors of prostitution and trafficking. Our first client completed the program in late 2013.
BEST is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is registered in the state of Washington. BEST is grateful for the financial support of foundations like The Sister Fund, Luke 12:48 Foundation, Hope Givers United, Sunrise for Children, StolenYouth, The Carlson Family Foundation, and the many individual donors that support our efforts to develop innovative, collaborative solutions to reduce human trafficking in local communities.