Introducing our 2018/2019 Grant Partner: BEST
This year, Dressember Foundation is excited to introduce one of their new grant partners: Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST). Based in Seattle, Washington, BEST provides awareness, consultation and training to employers in a variety of sectors in an effort to put an end to human trafficking within businesses. BEST recognizes the great need for prevention strategies to avert the recurring cycle of modern slavery, and it believes using businesses as an avenue to allocate its resources will effectively bring an end to the injustice.
BEST provides human trafficking awareness training to a variety of businesses. One industry in general that the Dressember 2018/2019 grant will fund is training within the hospitality industry. Dr. Mar Brettman, the Executive Director at BEST, said their research found that, “63% of sex-trafficking cases involve hotels and motels, ranging from luxury hotels in the heart of downtown to economy motels on the outskirts of town to business hotels in small towns.” This finding inspired BEST to work directly with hotel businesses.
Traffickers and buyers believe their crimes won’t be detected by law enforcement because hotels have privacy and a constant turnover of new guests. Because of this, BEST began formulating training programs that would best fit the needs of hotel employers.
Part of the BEST training protocol is its online and on-site programs that integrate prevention techniques. Their Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training (ITT), developed in 2012, is a 30-minute video-based program for hotel owners and managers to present to staff members. ITT is offered both as individual and group training, in either English or Spanish, and gives trainees an opportunity to hear from hospitality professionals, law enforcement officers, and human trafficking survivors. ITT teaches everyone that trafficking is not a victimless crime, but rather the exploitation of vulnerable people which leads to severe violence, trauma and abuse.
Within the past year, BEST has seen a steep increase of 640% in the total number of hotel employees they’ve trained in ITT. Reaching this outstanding achievement is a clear result of their partnerships with larger hotel associations and hotel management groups which share the same goal of training hotel employees to detect and report human trafficking.
Not only are more people being trained, but the trainings are actually working. “Survey research we’ve collected has shown that before taking our in-person training, hotel employees recognized and reported a trafficking incident only 8% of the time over the course of a year,” Brettman said. “After our training, that number jumped to 44% of trainees identifying human trafficking victims.”
For instance, front desk staff at a hotel in Eastern Washington successfully intervened when they saw a young woman in trouble. After the employees overheard two women arguing and being physically aggressive in the parking lot, one of them helped remove the young woman from the altercation. Brettman says the young woman, clearly in distress, bravely explained to the hotel staff that she was nearly trafficked.
“[She said] she had been offered a ride to California, but instead was brought to the hotel where the older woman tried to coerce her into trafficking. The hotel manager called police and the FBI Task Force came to help her with the situation.”
This is just one of many examples that show the impact of training hotel employees in the ITT program.
With the human trafficking movement changing rapidly, BEST aims to provide the highest quality training by continuously revising their programs. As they grow, they want to see change in the attitudes and behaviors of bystanders as well as workplace policies. BEST believes these actions will create an exploitation-free culture.
“Once we begin to educate them on the prevalence of sex buying and the nature of human trafficking, business leaders begin to understand the truth about human trafficking and they want to do something to help,” Brettman says.
The success of BEST and its ITT program is empowering. It should remind us to see the power people truly have when properly educated through awareness, consultation, and training programs.
Raise your voice against slavery this December!
Commit to wearing a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, expand your knowledge on modern slavery, and be equipped to lead your community in the fight to end human trafficking. Registration is open for Dressember 2018 and fundraising has already started! Be a part of the impact for our local and global partners by creating your campaign page today!
About the Author
Danyella Wilder is a college senior at California Baptist University studying Journalism and New Media, with two minors in Public Relations and Global Justice. She's thrilled to work alongside Dressember in their advocacy to spread awareness about modern-day slavery. Danyella is also an admirer of travel, an online-shopping enthusiast, and she loves going to the beach just as long as she has a great book in hand.