Marriott International Fighting Human Trafficking

Marriott International has partnered with Polaris, an organization devoted to combating modern-day slavery, in order to train staff to spot human trafficking in all their hotels. This is a much-needed move to help combat modern-day slavery, a heinous crime which affects millions of people in every country around the world. Marriott International and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts are leading the movement in human trafficking education, something needed in an industry where human trafficking can take place with little notice. The hotel chain has already succeeded in training 500,000 members of their staff.

Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement on their website, “Human trafficking is a horrific form of modern slavery that entraps millions of people around the world… By educating and empowering our global workforce to say something if they see something, we are not just standing up for the most vulnerable in society, we are also protecting associates and guests as well as living up to a core company value — serving our world.”

“If you see something say something” – this is a concept that can be translated easily and has worked for many initiatives including counterterrorism efforts. I encourage everyone to do just that. Marriott International Chief Global Human Resources Officer Dr. David Rodriguez states on the company’s website, “Hotels can unfortunately be unwilling venues for this unconscionable crime – and as a global hotel company that cares about human rights, we’re proud to be training hotel workers across the Marriott system to spot the signs… There is no easy fix, but combatting modern-day slavery starts with awareness – and we now have a significant number of people capable of recognizing suspicious behavior and reporting it to management and, in some cases, law enforcement.”

According to the Marriott’s website, the company “arranged for the program to be translated from English into 16 additional languages and also made sure it could be taken either online or in a classroom setting, so it can be accessed and understood in the 130 countries and territories where Marriott operates. The instruction is also broken down by role because the signs that a front desk clerk sees may differ from those that a housekeeper or bartender sees.” It is great that both Polaris and ECPAT-USA are taking into account each employee’s position while training them to spot human trafficking. The company teaches the staff to notice “minimal luggage and clothing, multiple men seen being escorted one at a time to a guest room, individuals who can’t speak freely or seem disoriented and guests who insist on little or no housekeeping” as some signs of human trafficking. Marriott International is truly taking an initiative to combat this serious issue.

I applaud Marriott International and encourage other hotels to take up this important initiative. Human trafficking is an atrocious crime which can take place anywhere, but is often concentrated in hotel and massage parlors. By training the staff in these hotels to spot human trafficking, numerous amounts of lives will be saved. According to the BBC, training has already paid off. In a Marriott hotel in London, an employee was able to spot a human trafficking case where a man was meeting up with an underage girl. Although this initiative is making a big impact, all citizens should educate themselves on this matter and look out for signs of human trafficking. If you are staying at a hotel and see something troublesome alert employees, it could save a life.

I hope this article motivates all who read it to take action and make a difference in our society. It can be as simple as speaking up when something doesn’t look right. We must not allow ourselves to fall into the Bystander Effect, which occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”