Putting the spotlight on global slavery and trafficking: That is what retirement contributions and congregational investments through Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) have helped achieve through the agency’s socially responsible investing initiatives. BBT signed on to a January letter urging the US Congress to require large companies to enact policies and auditing procedures that can expose and eliminate human mistreatment in their global supply chains.
“BBT represents the denomination’s positions, as established by Annual Conference actions, through its socially responsible investing activities,” said Steve Mason, director of BBT’s socially responsible investing initiatives. “Our members and clients have a voice, and today that voice is urging Congress and large companies to take significant action against trafficking and slavery.”
Through its relationship with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an interfaith corporate advocacy organization, BBT has signed on to the letter, which is addressed to House of Representatives speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor. It urges Republican leadership to place the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (HR 2759) at the top of the Financial Services Committee’s agenda. This bill requires companies with a minimum of $100 million in gross receipts to report their organization’s efforts to address trafficking and slavery to the Securities Exchange Commission and on their websites.
The letter reads, “Given trends in globalization and growing concerns regarding working conditions, labor issues, human trafficking, and slavery, investors and other stakeholders will increasingly call for greater disclosure from companies related to their supply chains. We therefore strongly encourage the Republican House leadership to support investors, companies, workers, and consumers by moving this important legislation forward in an expeditious manner.”
Signing on to this letter is another step in BBT’s efforts to represent its members and clients by bringing human rights matters to the attention of the US government and publicly traded companies. In 2011, BBT’s work with energy company ConocoPhillips helped to persuade the company to review its Human Rights Position to address the rights of indigenous peoples occupying areas in which ConocoPhillips does business. An Aug. 2010 letter from BBT to President Barack Obama urged the US government to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For more information about BBT’s socially responsible investing projects, visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org/socially-responsible-investing or contact Steve Mason at 800-746-1505 ext. 369 or email@example.com .
— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.