Why consumers are key players in the fight against human trafficking

Why consumers are key players in the fight against human trafficking

In the third of our blogs exploring modern slavery and responsible business in the hotel industry, Youth Ambassador Yuan Mao looks at the role consumers can have in tackling modern slavery.

Over the last decade, Millennials have driven a huge shift in consumer thinking. Today, more than 40 per cent of online consumers in Europe are looking for services and products based on their environmental or social impact. Consumers influence market demand and therefore change business practices by making ethically conscious decisions. The result is a recent surge in sustainable and ethically responsible business

Consumers are not only conscious about the products and services they buy but also the companies they work for. According to research carried out by Global Tolerance, 62% of Millennials prefer to work for a company that makes a positive impact and 53% admitted to working harder if they knew they were making a difference for others. If this study is reflected in employment practices, less socially conscious organisations will find it harder to attract younger generations to join their workforce.

The idea that the success of a company will be linked to social progress is a win-win situation for both business and consumers alike, but moral responsibility should not simply be used a selling point or a competitive edge. The move towards social value needs to be about more than just public relations and corporate identity. The only way forward for companies to truly benefit from being socially responsible is to commit to making social impact part of their core mission. In this regard, Shiva Hotels is proud to have made its commitment on human trafficking to demonstrate how social values are embedded within the company.

Shiva Foundation leads Women for Change, a forum for those wanting to make positive social impact. In the most recent event of the Women for Change breakfast series, we focused on “driving social change within business”. The attendees heard from an employee from Linklaters who highlighted that the company was moving away from corporate responsibility and towards a model that embraced collective responsibility. The shift to a collective approach is key to transforming dynamics and engaging all stakeholders (employers, employees and consumers alike) with promoting the company’s social impact message.

In this new era of consumer responsibility, businesses have a unique opportunity to connect with their customers by engaging in the conversations and transformations that make a real difference for people who are most vulnerable. In the meantime, consumers must continue enquiring about business practices and researching before buying a product or committing to a particular company. An easy way of shopping ethically is to look for responsible business certifications such as Fairtrade, MSC, and the Code, and to follow up by sharing your experiences on social media.