Shiva Foundation Call for Urgent and collaborative response to tackle modern slavery in hotel and hospitality sectors

The Shiva Foundation has launched a comprehensive new report calling for immediate and coordinated action to address modern slavery in the hotel and hospitality sectors, following wide-ranging insights from across the industry.

The report is unveiled today at ‘Collaborating to Tackle Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery’, an event co-hosted with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which is managed by UN Women on behalf of the UN system. The conference brings together key representatives from the UN, UK government, business and civil society, and will showcase best practice examples of partnering to tackle modern slavery from various sectors across the globe.

The report is based on learnings over the past year from the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network, a group of hoteliers convened by Shiva Foundation, as well as a wider consultation with the hospitality sector backed by the British Hospitality Association. Collectively, the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network’s members are involved with 6,000 properties in more than 100 countries, and employ around 220,000 people across the globe.

It is estimated that there are 115,000 human trafficking victims in the hospitality sector in Europe, of whom 93,500 are sexually exploited and nearly 7,000 are labour exploitation victims working in hotels.

To help tackle the problem, Shiva Foundation is recommending greater collaboration, encouraging hotel and hospitality organisations to: 

  • Use collective purchasing power to help drive change in supply chains, rewarding responsible suppliers
  • Share successes, failures and learnings to increase the flow of information between companies and sectors
  • Be bolder in showcasing their commitment to tackling modern slavery. For example, the report references how Shiva Hotels, which is affiliated to Shiva Foundation, has been praised by staff and guests for publicly displaying its commitment to addressing modern slavery in the lobbies of its hotels
  • Treat slavery as a priority by involving representatives from across the business

Hotel and hospitality companies’ supply chains face particular risks because of high turnover of staff and goods, which usually results in complex, multi-layered processes, and the outsourcing of recruitment to third party agencies. All of this means transparency is often limited.

The report’s recommendations extend beyond the hospitality sector, calling for:

  • Stronger, targeted action from labour market regulators
  • Industry membership bodies in the hospitality and hotel sector to create a focused working group on slavery, which should include smaller hotel companies
  • All organisations, regardless of size, to submit a modern slavery statement
  • Government to bring key stakeholders together to strengthen and speed up collective action

Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:  “Taking action on modern slavery and human trafficking is not just a moral obligation – it makes good business sense. Forced labour in company operations or supply chains has the potential to disrupt business, weaken investor confidence and cause significant brand damage.”

“The hotel and hospitality sector has the opportunity to show real leadership and strength in tackling modern slavery, but there is still a way to go to ensure a comprehensive and consistent response. I urge all business leaders join this fight, so we can ensure that addressing slavery becomes the norm, rather than the exception.”

Meenal Sachdev, Director of Shiva Foundation, said:  “With more than one in 10 people involved in hotels and hospitality around the world, the sector has the opportunity to take a strong stand on modern slavery. We are calling on all hotels to join this fight and become part of our Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network. By collaborating more often, more honestly and with more organisations, we can help drive real action.”

“To truly tackle the issues, we also need wider action from government, industry bodies, unions, civil society and customers. Together, we can provide freedom and equality to the many millions currently suffering from this abuse.”

There is currently limited guidance about how to tackle modern slavery in the hotel sector. To address this, Shiva Foundation has also developed two pieces of practical guidance for hoteliers to help them implement the report’s recommendations:

  • Hotel Industry Blueprint: comprehensive guidance including training models and policy templates. The Blueprint has been successfully implemented across five hotels since July 2017
  • Framework for Working with Suppliers: a practical tool published by the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network outlining how to mitigate the risks of modern slavery in a hotelier’s work with suppliers

Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, added:  “To end human trafficking we need meaningful policies and global best practices that are rigorously implemented through joint efforts of public, private, civil society sectors and the UN. The UN Trust Fund welcomes Shiva Foundation’s efforts to tackle the issue within the hospitality sector.”

“Today’s event jointly organized by the UN Trust Fund and Shiva Foundation brings together the hotel industry, NGOs, governments, the private sector and the UN system to create a dialogue and share resources to end human trafficking, such as the dynamic model created by Shiva Foundation. The UN Trust Fund awards grants to prevent and end all forms of violence against women, and as women and girls are the vast majority of human trafficking victims, the work of its grantees complement these efforts to tackle human trafficking.” 

Fran Hughes, Director of the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), said: “The hospitality industry is a people industry, and it is essential that we work together to support the protection of human rights of our colleagues, those we do business with, and the communities where we operate.”

“By making the hotel and hospitality industry aware of the risks and recommended actions, including those set out in Shiva Foundation’s new report, we can help ensure the safety and livelihoods of those who may be exploited.”

The full report, ‘Charting a Course for Collective Action: Addressing Slavery in the Hotel Industry’, is available here:



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