Our expert is Dr. Jean Baderschneider, CEO and founding board member of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. This organization is designed to catalyze a global strategy to end human trafficking and to increase the necessary resources from the public and private sector to fund it. Baderschneider was in the private sector for 35 years, coming from ExxonMobil as Vice President, of Global Procurement. She also has over 10 years of anti-trafficking experience and has served on the Board of a number of the key anti-trafficking organizations in the field.
Interview with Dr. Baderschneider
Editor: Give us some background on the scope of the human trafficking problem.
Baderschneider: The first thing to understand is that it is a big problem, and it’s everywhere, including in our own back yard. According to the Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40 million people are in some form of modern slavery. We are working to create better quantitative data tofully grasp the breadth and depth of human slavery.
Editor: Why has it become such an issue right now?
Baderschneider: Trafficking is extraordinarily profitable. According to a 2012 estimate, thiscrime generates at least a $150 billion a year in profits for traffickers, second only to drug trafficking. The combination of the number of people exploited and size of the profits has raised demand for action. The increasing number of focused awareness efforts, as well as new legislative, efforts such as the Modern Slavery Act are having an impact and creating platforms for action.
Editor: And other global trends that lead to more trafficking?
Baderschneider: Human trafficking sits at the intersection of many global trends, such as migration, organized crime, global supply chains, and so on.. Many people migrate because they have no other options and are looking for work. There are approximately 244 million migrants a year.While this can be a positive experience for some, it also results in large numbers of vulnerable people at risk of ending up in exploitative labor situations.
Editor: What are the obstacles that keep us from successfully combating it so far?
Baderschneider: The existing efforts and resources do not match the scale of the problem. The resources currently available to combat trafficking are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but as I said, the traffickers are making $150 billion a year. That’s not a fair fight. In addition, efforts have been fragmented, uncoordinated, and limited by lack of data.
Also, you may be able to shut down trafficking in one place, but the traffickers immediately pop up someplace else, like a neighboring village. Instead of solving the problem, it has only been displaced.
Editor: How is the organization you head, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, addressing the problem?
Baderschneider: Here’s our three-pronged approach.
- First, we have programs related to rule of law, designed to end impunity for all forms of trafficking.
- Second, we have programs focused on sustaining freedom for survivors through recovery, reintegration and economic opportunity.
- Third, we have programs focused on business engagement, including proactively engaging with the business community and its supply chains.
In the world today, there is about $70 trillion in procurement spending. If we can get corporations fully engaged and leverage their resources, it begins to become more of a fair fight. We want investors and banks to incentivize companies to meaningfully address the risk of slavery in their supply chains.
Editor: I would imagine that shining a light on a company’s slave-labor-fueled supply chain would be a powerful tool. No company wants the reputational catastrophe of being outed for using slave labor in its supply chain. Do you have a final thought for us?
Baderschneider: Yes, we are doing much more than there’s space for in your blog! Come to our website to see what else we’re doing. https://www.gfems.org
Mitzi Perdue is the organizer of the Global Anti-Trafficking Auction, and author of the book, 52 Tips for Combatting Human Trafficking, available on Amazon.