Hotel chain Hilton Worldwide, thrust into a scandal in June after Chinese police discovered a brothel operating inside a Hilton hotel karaoke club in southern China, will be rolling out an internal code of conduct by year-end to help prevent child sex trafficking at its hotels.
"Hilton is moving forward with discussions with ECPAT-USA and other organizations about steps to prevent child prostitution and human trafficking, and we continue to engage in and evaluate methods for prevention," Jennifer Silberman, Hilton's vice president of corporate responsibility, told the Washington Business Journal.
ECPAT-USA is a branch of ECPAT International, short for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes. ECPAT's code of conduct requires members to establish an ethical policy regarding commercial exploitation of children, train employees to detect and report trafficking activities, and introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers repudiating commercial exploitation of children (www.thecode.org). As of August, 937 individual tourism companies and local and national NGOs in 37 countries had signed the code.
Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA, notes the U.S. has been lagging in the fight against child sex trafficking. Just three of the 937 signatories are U.S-based. Carlson Companies--whose brands include Radisson, Country Inn and Suites, Park Inn and Park Plaza-is the only U.S. hotel chain among them.
Could Hilton's discussions regarding child sex-trafficking encourage other U.S. hotel chains to get more proactive? "I really hope so ... It's good for kids, families and companies," she tells FA. Hotel employees seem to be happier when they know what is expected of them, she says.
"Of all of the horrific examples of modern-day slavery, child sex trafficking is one of globalization's darkest secrets. ICCR members applaud Hilton's decision to establish and enforce a code of conduct in all their properties," Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, tells FA.
Julie Tanner, assistant director of SRI for Christian Brothers Investment Services, is also pleased. "While I haven't reviewed the internal code and it is unclear at this time what it will cover, Hilton's commitment to create a code is an important first step and one which we applaud. We hope that it will be rigorous and that along with it is a robust and substantive description as to how it will be implemented. For example, how will the company train staff about the code and within what time frame? What are the goals and objectives of the code? What are the measurements of success? How will the company report on its annual progress? We encourage Hilton to adopt ECPAT's code at some point in the near future," she says.
More information on the fight against child sex trafficking and human trafficking in general can be found by clicking here.