Hotels provide a service that centers around appeasing guests. Whether it’s employees like maids and room service, or amenities like restaurants and pools. This industry wants you to travel to different places, enjoy your stay, then go home to recommend it to friends. And more most importantly, have you back. In whatever way they can, they want to make their hotel more desirable than their competitors. Their reputation is very important.
Hotels Reputation, Transparency and Processes
Maintaining a great reputation with customers can be a good reason for hotels not to report suspected issues of modern slavery. What hotel would want to admit that they have found slavery. Why would they want their customers to know that?
However, the other reason is the wide range of jobs and services that hotels provide. These can easily allow modern slavery to exist. Transparency is hard with many hotels because keeping track of all the moving parts can be very difficult.
Managing processes is another great example hotels have. Because many hotels are franchises.
“In the franchising model, hotel brands lend their name and customer care standards to third parties, but usually stipulate far less about the standards they expect for the employment of workers, even in countries where abuse is endemic.” – Business and Human Rights Resource Center
So practices from one hotel can be completely different from another. Even within the same franchise due to a lack of basic standards being in place for each location. The article by Business and Human Rights Resource Center is reporting on a review of UK’s Modern Slavery Act. It assesses how the act has impacted the hotel industry. Key findings of this report say that:
76% of companies do not disclose supply chain information.
Only 25% of statements made by hotels on modern slavery met the minimum requirement.
Why is Modern Slavery in Hotels?
The Mekong Club wants “to redefine how businesses collectively achieve a world without slavery”. They released a comprehensive PDF called COVID-19 and Modern Slavery Within the Hospitality Sector.
It describes the vulnerability of working in hospitality, as well as how it can be reduced.
Let’s see why the hospitality sector is so prone to harboring modern slavery.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 caused many to lose their jobs in hospitality as the industry was declining. Nevertheless, people still need money to support themselves and their families. This will cause an influx in modern slavery. As people look for any job to do, sadly they get tricked by those who take advantage of them.
Paying off a debt to a company by working for them is common. And it can land someone in a bad situation. Often they will never be able to pay off the debt. And this can happen all throughout the hospitality industry. The review of UK’s modern slavery act found that 6/71 or 8% of companies state that workers do not pay any type of recruitment fee or cost. But that leaves 92% of hotels unwilling to be transparent as to whether workers are being held by their debt to work for the company.
Used in cases like room cleaners, caregivers, gardeners, security, and dishwashers. These outside sources for work can be forced labor or bonded labor with usually less protection than a permanent worker. The hotel is working with the contractor, who is hopefully taking care of their workers, but chances are that isn’t disclosed to hotels.
Hotels’ contribution to modern slavery goes outside their own practices. Every destination is filled with products and goods. From the bed sheets to food, there is the possibility of being linked to modern slavery. There is very little documentation and transparency about how the products are made and received.
Forced Prostitution / Sex Trafficking:
Hotels provide a location for many types of issues to happen behind closed doors. It is said by the Mekong Club that buying sex increases in times of crisis to “reduce stress and anxiety associated with day-to-day burdens”. Covid-19 is a huge crisis, so a larger demand for bought sex should be expected. The tricky thing is that sex trafficking will look a lot like prostitution. But people will be forced to do these acts, as opposed to consensual agreements being made.
More Transparency and Ethical Practices are Needed
Modern-day slavery and human trafficking can be hidden and disguised. So when little to no effort is being made to manage or keep track of these issues, they can run rampant. If companies don’t look to see if they have a problem, they won’t be forced to fix anything. In turn, they won’t have to report an unsightly image that could push away customers. For many people, this cycle is gut-wrenching. The treatment of humans shouldn’t be made less important than success. However, the world has operated like this for a long time. So we need more awareness raised and then hopefully more people will keep their eyes open to these indicators around them.
The Freedom Hub does is supports people who have been in modern slavery and human trafficking in Australia.
They help them rebuild their lives. It is not only important to stop these inhumane systems but to take care of those who have suffered from them. The Freedom School allows for individuals to learn and take courses in working fields, as well as how to manage everyday day life with trauma symptoms and anxiety.
Written by: Nicolette Bettuzzi