Partnership Development

Engaging the Private Sector to Combat Human Trafficking

Article | May 3, 2019

The private sector is increasingly being recognized by donors, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a crucial partner in combating human trafficking and unfair labor practices. Companies are both directly affected by these challenges in their own operations and are well-positioned to take action that has significant impact.

Human rights abuses occurring in company supply chains can result in reputational damage, legal repercussions, and financial loss. The threat provides a strong business case for companies to invest in addressing these issues. Traditionally, governmental bodies, nonprofits, and civil society organizations (CSOs) have led efforts to eradicate human trafficking. Engaging private sector companies and associations to help tackle labor abuses and trafficking opens the door to new resources, approaches, tools, networks, and entry-points.

As a partner working with Winrock International on the United States Agency for International Development Asia Counter Trafficking in Persons (USAID Asia CTIP) project, Resonance is leading efforts to develop shared-value partnerships with international corporations and local companies. These partnerships are helping to combat human trafficking in supply chains within the seafood, agriculture, construction, and domestic work sectors across Asia.

In addition to working directly with private sector, we are empowering organizations and projects working to counter human trafficking who currently lack the resources, tools and knowledge to effectively engage with companies. We bring businesses, nonprofits and CSOs to the table to learn from each other and identify opportunities to collaborate that reduce the incidence of unfair labor while also benefiting companies’ bottom lines.

“We want to work with civil society, NGOs, and organizations that have expertise on the issues,” said a representative from a multinational company we spoke with. “However, it is difficult to align the different perspectives, expectations, and approaches towards a common goal.”

Resonance consolidated our insights from the USAID Asia CTIP project in a practical Learning & Action Brief: Five Learnings on Engaging the Private Sector to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The brief is targeted at international and local stakeholders who want to engage the private sector to counter human trafficking, yet may not have experience in this realm or know where to start.

One takeaway? Trust-building between multi-stakeholder actors is critical.

“It’s hard to collaborate and tackle difficult issues if there is no genuine trust between the stakeholders.” – Multinational company

Learn more insights in the brief. We also invite interested stakeholders and organizations to engage with us in the following ways:

  1. Join in the discourse on private sector engagement and partnerships for countering trafficking in persons. Let us know your feedback regarding this brief and whether you are interested in participating in webinars or public events to learn more on the subject.
  1. Share your experience. We want to know more about your experience adopting the lessons learned from this brief (or other experience you may have in working with businesses to counter human rights abuses and trafficking). This feedback will help us to generate evidence-based practices and recommendations for strengthening interventions.

Please send your feedback, questions, comments, or ideas. We would love to hear from you.


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If you are a corporate leader and would like to be a part of a discussion about these and other issues in the presidential transition, contact Resonance Strategic Partnerships Manager, Seth Olson.