SEATTLE, WA, September 29, 2015--Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) today joined King County business leaders and national employers for the launch of the BEST Employers Alliance, the first public-private partnership in the nation to work across industries preventing sex trafficking and sex buying. The BEST Employers Alliance will support participating employers as they adopt appropriate policies protecting their businesses from the risks posed by sexual exploiters.
“We need to send a clear, consistent message that every employer in King County – in both the public and private sectors – is committed to ending slavery and sex trafficking in our community,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Preventing work resources from being used by traffickers is an important, necessary first step. My long-term goal is to call upon our skilled and dedicated employees to determine what each of us can do to help survivors and those who are most vulnerable.”
The founding partners of the BEST Employers Alliance include King County; Slalom Consulting; Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, the owner of Radisson and Country Inn & Suites; 360° Hotel Group, the operator of six Seattle-area hotels; the City of Seattle; and the Rotary Club of Seattle. There are currently 18 employers representing over 125,000 employees in the Alliance.
“We are thrilled to partner with leading businesses and employers who have a shared commitment to reducing sexual exploitation in King County and across the country,” said Dr. Mar Brettmann, Executive Director of BEST. “These employers know that sex trafficking is deeply damaging and exploitative, and that allowing sexual exploitation to occur within the context of business operations is bad for business,” she added.
According to BEST, research has found that 15-20% of American men have solicited sex. This high prevalence drives demand for trafficking victims and puts organizations at risk because many buyers solicit on work time, during business travel, or using company resources. By addressing this issue proactively, employers protect their organizations and create a positive work culture that upholds the rights of children and women.
“Slalom is a purpose driven company, and one of our core values is to do the right thing, always,” said Brian Jacobsen, general manager of Slalom Consulting. “We are invested in our community and have the privilege of working with BEST and the Employers Alliance to be part of the solution to stamp out human trafficking.”
The launch aligns with “Buyer Beware,” a countywide effort to reduce the local demand for bought sex by targeting those who pay for sex. Earlier this year, law enforcement across King County announced that 2014 was the first year sex buying criminal charges outpaced prostitution charges, marking a shift in focus to the buyers who choose to perpetuate a harmful industry.
“While over 60 percent of trafficking cases involve hotels or motels, sex traffickers and buyers also use other business services and properties—like corporate parking lots, shopping malls, and massage businesses—to exploit people,” said King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Valiant Richey. “The BEST Alliance will support the Buyer Beware initiative by training employers to identify and interrupt sex trafficking and sex buying.”
The BEST Employers Alliance is launching with the following partners:
360° Hotel Group, Cairncross & Hempelmann, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, City of Seattle, Country Inn and Suites in Bothell, EKOS, King County, L&L Management Services, Menrva Labs, New England Growth Associates, P3, BEST, Passport Unlimited, Polaris, Radisson at Seattle Airport, Rotary Club of Seattle, Slalom.
About Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST):
Founded in 2012, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aligns and equips leaders to use the power of business to prevent human trafficking. BEST has a dedicated team of staff, volunteers and partners who work in collaboration with businesses, law enforcement, industry associations and service providers to help bring and end to trafficking. For more information, visit www.bestalliance.org.