ECPAT-USA corporate partner Marriott International announced last week that, as of this month, it has trained 500,000 of its associates in how to recognize and respond to human trafficking in hotels. The brand launched mandatory training for on-property staff last year as part of its efforts to combat exploitation after becoming a signatory of ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct in January 2018. The news is especially poignant as it comes during National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month.
“Human trafficking is a horrific form of modern slavery that entraps millions of people around the world,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, in a press release. “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.”
Marriott’s training was developed in collaboration with ECPAT-USA and Polaris and has been translated into 16 languages to ensure that associates in all of the 130 countries in which the company has properties can access the training. According to the brand, the program has “directly resulted in young people being removed from dangerous situations.”
“Hotel workers wouldn’t necessarily see a human trafficker visibly restraining a victim; they would typically see a scenario that is much more nuanced and harder to detect if you don’t know what to look for,” said Dr. David Rodriguez, Chief Global Human Resources Officer, Marriott International. “That’s why helping hotel workers identify the signs of sexual exploitation and forced labor is so important. This knowledge gives them confidence that they can do something to help, which is already having an important impact in our hotels.”
Marriott’s announcement is also an important reminder that everyone has a role to play in the fight to end exploitation. Learning the signs of trafficking is a key way both hotel associates and travelers alike can help protect children across the country.
“We are extremely proud of the work Marriott has done,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement. “For years, hotels said it was impossible to do training across the board to all associates in their portfolio - that no matter how engaging or comprehensive training was, associates were not always reachable. We are pleased to see hotel brands requiring training across properties. Marriott’s efforts prove that when a company sets out to strategically and comprehensively engage everyone, they can do it.”