Knowing our areas of core competency and influence have always been a foundational ethos and practice for us at Chab Dai. A decade ago when Chab Dai was set up as a coalition, there were few partners in the movement outside the NGO sector.
However, in recent years we have seen a new generation of stakeholders who previously had only been seen as the problem and not part of the solution. These partners are from the business sector and, although there is still a level of suspicion between the NGOs and businesses, there is also a growing collaboration emerging internationally.
Businesses supporting human rights
This was evident at the recent Thomson Reuters Trust Forum conference in Hong Kong, which I was privileged to attend. Among the 200 attendees, more than 70% were corporate businesses - law firms, the banking industry, PR and communications companies, as well as government figures and journalists who are, at last, interested in reporting on the more complex, emerging and in-depth issues beyond the sensationalized media.
During the conference, these corporate representatives were put on the spot by the Thomson Reuters CEO, Monique Villa who had some innovative grassroots organisations present their needs. There ensued an open floor request for pledges of support from the attendees. I was fascinated and encouraged to see lawyers, design companies and others publicly commit their expertise to these causes.
Stopping exploitation with multi-sector collaboration
One of the keynote speakers was Andrew Forrest, an Australian mining magnate who stepped back from his corporate position four years ago to dedicate his time, energy and significant resources and influence to the anti slavery cause. An interesting observation was how he started with his own corporation, carrying out a supply chain audit and calling out others to do the same.
Of course, we still have a long way to go but I think that we are beginning to take hold of the vision and need for multi-sector collaboration, which is the only way we will ever see an end to the exploitation of human lives.
Written by Helen Sworn, Chab Dai's Founder & International Director