IHG, Polaris host anti-human trafficking forum

IHG Hotels & Resorts and its partner Polaris, a leading organization in the fight against human trafficking, hosted a forum in Atlanta on Feb. 22 to unveil findings from Polaris’ National Survivor Study (NSS). Survivors of human trafficking shared insights on the conditions that make people vulnerable to trafficking and the barriers to rebuilding their lives. Elected officials and executives from Atlanta’s top companies also discussed what Georgia and the business community are doing to help to support survivors and stop human trafficking.

The NSS is a survivor-led research project designed to reveal the experiences and needs of human trafficking survivors in an effort to design more effective strategies to eradicate this crime.

Key study insights:

  • Prior to their trafficking, survivors reported experiencing vulnerabilities at alarmingly high rates, including 83% having experienced poverty and 96% having suffered abuse (physical, sexual, emotional).
  • At time of exit, 75% of respondents reported support in accessing behavioral or mental health services as one of their top needs.
  • Roughly 40% of respondents reported some kind of criminal record as a result of their trafficking experience, hindering their chances for employment.
  • Survivors’ income lags the rest of the population, with 43% of respondents making under $25,000 per year after exiting trafficking, compared to 26% of the general U.S. population.
  • Traffickers often exploit victims through misuse of their identity for various financial schemes and more than 60% of respondents reported experiencing financial abuse by their trafficker.

“This event highlighted critical findings from the National Survivor Study that paint a detailed picture of the arc of trafficking, from the conditions that make people susceptible, to the many challenges survivors face after their exploitation,” said Catherine Chen, CEO, Polaris. “The NSS offers a virtual roadmap for policymakers and allies seeking to make change, and I’m hopeful the dialogue will bring more awareness to the ways we can support survivors.”

Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said, “IHG’s purpose in convening this conversation with our partner Polaris, trafficking survivors, elected officials and businesses is two-fold—to keep trafficking prevention in the spotlight, but also shine a new light on barriers that prevent survivors’ livelihoods. Putting a stop to trafficking requires deep collaboration and commitment, from the hotel training we require across more than 4,300 Americas IHG hotels to partnering with our industry, non-profits and government.”

First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp said, “In Georgia, we have made great strides in the fight against human trafficking by empowering law enforcement to pursue offenders and creating new avenues of support for survivors. As we see in this report, there is still more work to be done. We are continuing to raise awareness of human trafficking and find ways to provide survivors the resources they need on their paths to recovery.”

According to the company, IHG has had a longstanding commitment to fight human trafficking and improve the lives of survivors through various partnerships with organizations including Polaris, ECPAT-USA, It’s a Penalty and Wellspring Living. In January, IHG also donated $500,000 to support the AHLA Foundation No Room for Trafficking (NRFT) Survivor Fund as part of the hotel industry’s united front to end trafficking. Additionally, IHG offers free anti-human trafficking training, which is a required brand standard for all colleagues to complete across more than 4,300 hotels in the Americas.