Leading hoteliers have come together to launch an industry-wide network to combat modern slavery in UK hotels.
The initiative, which is led by Shiva Foundation and will be unveiled at the annual Trust Women Conference in London today, will help representatives from across the industry address risks in their facilities, employment practices and supply chains. The network will work collaboratively to develop and test methods to be shared throughout the hotel and hospitality sector.
The founding members are Shiva Hotels, Hilton and Bespoke Hotels. The British Hospitality Association has endorsed the scheme and will support its expansion throughout the hotel sector. The International Tourism Partnership, which works with leading international hotel groups on human rights, is also supporting the scheme to enable it to sync with corporate policies beyond the UK. With 180,000 businesses involved in UK hospitality and tourism, there is significant scope for the network to grow.
The Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network has been formed following a roundtable held by Shiva Foundation and Thomson Reuters Foundation in early November, at which hotel brands, owners and management companies discussed the shared challenges facing the industry. The initial areas of action and focus are currently being decided by the group, but several key issues emerged:
- Ethical recruitment: The layered structure of hotels – which often involves brands franchising properties – combined with multi-tier recruitment systems, can mean that unscrupulous practices are difficult to detect. A joint approach can help identify and prevent such practices.
- Sexual exploitation: Hotels can unknowingly be used to traffick victims for sexual exploitation. Through training and awareness-raising, the industry can help identify and prevent this and ensure the safety of staff and guests.
- Responsible supply chains: Goods and services purchased by hotels – including food and cotton – can represent hidden risks in terms of worker welfare. By joining forces, the industry can help improve standards and checks.
Shiva Foundation has already developed a blueprint to minimise the risk of modern slavery, which is currently being piloted at a London hotel managed by Shiva Hotels. The pilot includes making Shiva Hotels’ statement on trafficking available on each of the 260 televisions in guests’ rooms to help raise consumer awareness and encourage vigilance among guests. Staff are also receiving practical guidance on how to spot and report concerns, as well as being shown steps to identify potential risks in supply chains.
Speaking today at the Trust Women Conference hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Meenal Sachdev, Founder and Director of Shiva Foundation, will call on attendees to support the network and help it expand to create a movement among hoteliers and consumers. The event convenes global corporations, government representatives and leaders in the field of anti-slavery and women’s rights, with delegates committing to tangible actions to fight modern-day slavery.
Rishi Sachdev, Founder & Director of Shiva Foundation and Shiva Hotels, said: “Modern slavery is an urgent issue that affects thousands of people across the UK. As a major business sector involving millions of people, the hotel industry has a real opportunity to help prevent these crimes. While there has been much good work across the hotel sector to date, there hasn’t yet been a unifying scheme to bring this together. By sharing knowledge and expertise through this network, we can ensure that best practice is spread more quickly, helping ensure the safety and livelihoods of those who may be at risk. The potential of this network is huge, and we look forward to leading its expansion.”
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive, the British Hospitality Association, said: “The safety and wellbeing of those involved in the hotel industry – employees, guests, and all those involved in the supply chains – is paramount. This network will help ensure that best practice in combatting modern slavery is shared and implemented across the board, and we are pleased to endorse it and encourage its expansion among our members.”
Nicolas Perin, Programme Manager, the International Tourism Partnership, said: “We welcome the launch of this network to enable hotels to lead the way in combatting modern slavery. We look forward to sharing the work of this collaboration with our members outside the UK, to ensure that hotel groups can work together on human rights, and that insights are applied internationally.”