Today the Thomson Reuters Foundation announced the winners of its annual Stop Slavery Award. Held virtually for the first time, this year's ceremony recognised companies, non-profit organisations and individuals making vital contributions to combatting slavery - a multi-billion-dollar industry estimated by the International Labour Organization and Walk Free Foundation to affect more than 40 million people worldwide.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), ARMEDANGELS and Missing Link Trust are amongst the businesses and NGOs awarded for their outstanding contribution to the global fight to end modern slavery and human trafficking – in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the inequalities and economic conditions that enable this scourge to thrive.
The Stop Slavery Award was launched in 2015 as the first global recognition for businesses that had set a gold standard in efforts to eradicate forced labour from their supply chains. In recognition of the wide range of actors dedicated to ending modern slavery, the Award expanded in 2020 – with the introduction of different categories for journalists, innovative solutions, impact, public awareness campaigns and collaboration.
HPE has won this year’s Stop Slavery Enterprise Award for Goods and Service Companies for its leadership in limiting the risk of slavery in its supply chain and operations. It is the second time the information technology company has scooped a Stop Slavery Award, having first won the prize in 2016. Judges commended HPE’s sustained commitment – one that is embedded in its daily operations – to combatting the crime, as well as its focus on the responsible sourcing of minerals.
John Schultz, Chief Operating & Legal Officer at HPE, said: “This recognition has a very special meaning for HPE and for me. I was deeply honoured to accept the very first Stop Slavery Award back in 2016. Since then, HPE has remained committed to being transparent and open about the challenges and actions we've been taking to combat modern slavery throughout our supply chain”.
German sustainable fashion brand ARMEDANGELS has won in the Small & Medium-Sized Companies category. Judges highlighted the company’s robust anti-slavery operations and responsible sourcing practices, as well its response to the pandemic – which saw the label not cancelling any orders from its suppliers or producers.
Meanwhile, Missing Link Trust is named winner of the Stop Slavery Campaigns Award, in recognition of its innovative use of art and technology to drive awareness of sex trafficking. Combining education with engagement, the organisation reaches children and students through gaming, murals, public art and interactive comics – with judges noting how its ‘MISSING: Game for a Cause’, downloaded more than a million times across 70 countries, has informed a critical audience about the atrocities of trafficking.
“This award is going to strengthen our work on the prevention of trafficking and help us to reach many, many more [victims],” said Leena Kejriwal, founder of Missing Link Trust. “This is a tribute to every Missing campaign team that has stood by me all these years and helped our community move closer to the vision of creating a world where every girl is safe from sex trafficking”.
Other winners include Bon Pasteur Kolwezi, an NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has been handed the Stop Slavery Hero Award for its work to combat child labour in Lualaba’s cobalt mining communities. Bon Pasteur has removed over 3,000 children from the worst forms of child labour, supported hundreds of families by helping them to secure alternative and sustainable livelihoods, and educated more than 20,000 people on how to campaign for better working conditions.
In recognition of the vital role that journalism plays in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking, Mexican journalist Karla María Gutiérrez received the Stop Slavery Media Award for shining a light on the exploitation of domestic workers across the country.
Organisations have also been recognised for innovation and impact. Based in Kolkata, India, Stop Slavery Impact Award winner Sanjog provide legal services to survivors of trafficking and established India's first independent forum for survivors - which now has 2,500 members from 10 states. Berlin-based WikiRate won the Stop Slavery Innovation Award for its open data platform that brings corporate ESG data together in one place - making it accessible, comparable, and free for all.
Ulula, working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network, UK, are joint winners of the Stop Slavery Collaboration Award. Both organisations brought together key players in their regions to tackle modern slavery and were recognised for their multi-stakeholder approaches and interventions.
Speaking about how West Midlands adapted its programmes to ensure victims of slavery still received the care and support they needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, its Development Manager Amber Cagney said: “Organisations who usually identify potential victims of modern slavery were diverted to tackling Covid meaning some victims were not being identified - our organisation dedicated ourselves to ensuring modern slavery remained a priority and extended our work to raising awareness in the homeless and rough sleeping sector”.
Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Antonio Zappulla said: “The Stop Slavery Award brings together and recognises representatives from all sectors, all geographies and all professional backgrounds – reflecting the scale of the movement that is so committed to tackling one of the world’s most despicable crimes. Rather than COVID-19 being ‘the great leveller’, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities – bringing the urgency and relevance of all the shortlist and winners’ work into sharp relief. It has been truly inspiring to witness their dedication to confining this global scourge to history and to fostering more inclusive societies where freedoms are protected, and human rights are respected”.
Global law firm Baker McKenzie was Headline Sponsor for this year’s virtual award ceremony. The firm has supported the Award since its launch, and helped to develop the extensive questionnaire for the Stop Slavery Enterprise Award applicants, which highlights best practice in corporate commitment and reporting, performance management, business partner engagement, risk assessment, investigation and remediation.
Alyssa Auberger, Chief Sustainability Officer at Baker McKenzie said: “We are proud to have worked with the Thomson Reuters Foundation since the inception of the Stop Slavery Award, and it has been a special honor to play such an important part in this year’s awards. Modern slavery takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labor and human trafficking; although it is often invisible to the naked eye, it can be found all around us. While COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the world's population, it has brought to light the prevalence of modern slavery in society - whether in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we use every day. As a Firm, we are proud to support the work that is being done across the world to highlight what is one of the most overlooked global issues of our generation, and to fight for those who need help.”
For a full list of categories, winners, shortlisted candidates, and our judging panels, please visit www.stopslaveryaward.com.
Watch the highlights video: