Spotlight on Nexus

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In recent years, many governments and nonprofit institutions have recognized the importance of combating human trafficking. However, approximately 20.9 million individuals continue to suffer as victims of this crime. One noteworthy organization, Nexus, offers a new approach to this issue by working with large corporations and high net-worth individuals.

On July 16, 2014, we had the pleasure of meeting with Patrick Gage, one of the co-chairs of the Nexus Working Group on Human Trafficking, who explained the mission of Nexus and its work against human trafficking.

Patrick explained that “Nexus is a global movement of 2000+ young investors, social entrepreneurs and allies who work to increase and improve philanthropy and social impact investing.” In other words, Nexus works with high net-worth individuals to build socially conscious business practices and models.

Each year, Nexus holds global and national summits during which young social entrepreneurs, leaders, and philanthropists discuss pressing issues, including human trafficking. Last week, the Nexus Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship was held in New York and several of its panels focused on the prevention of human trafficking.

Amara greatly appreciates Nexus’s work collaborating with businesses and entrepreneurs because the lives of many victims of trafficking are intertwined with the operations of large corporations. For instance, Patrick underscored the important role of the hospitality industry. In the past several years, his family’s company, Carlson, has made important strides in preventing sex trafficking in their hotels (Radisson, Country Inns and Suites, Park Inn, and Park Plaza). They recognize that it is necessary for owners and managers of hotels to be aware of possible situations of sex trafficking in the rooms they are providing and to take action to prevent such behavior. Although raid and rescue techniques can be successful in helping individual victims, Patrick’s family shows how involvement of the business community may also affect a reduction in sex trafficking.

In addition, Patrick noted that it is crucial for business owners to know how their products are being made and under what working conditions their workers are employed. According to Patrick, the complicated nature of supply chains in the 21st century should not be an excuse for corporations to remain unaware of the conditions of slavery their workers endure. The cost of making a company’s supply chain slave-free often serves as a deterrent for CEOs, but Patrick cited the example of Publix increasing the price of one pound of tomatoes by one cent each in order to give tomato workers a living wage. Publix has refused to sign the agreement to give the workers a one cent per pound raise, which seems unreasonable considering the large impact it would have on many workers with a relatively small financial impact on Publix itself. Ultimately, Patrick reminds us that businesses should be held accountable for the human rights violations they commit and Nexus aims to motivate individuals and businesses to take on this accountability.

At Nexus summits, Patrick and other social justice-minded individuals work with young people who will soon take leadership roles in large international corporations. They brainstorm ways to motivate businesses to take the steps needed to ensure that their supply chains are slave-free. Patrick believes that Nexus and its members can work together to influence and incentivize businesses to play positive roles in the social justice community.

We thank Nexus for all of its work in this area and look forward to hearing more about last week’s Global Youth Summit. With a lot of hope and hard work, Patrick leaves us with a simple, yet inspiring statement: “We can abolish slavery in our lifetime.”

By Caroline Ackerman

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