- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey and Mayor Walsh Convene Business Leaders to Announce New Zero Tolerance Workplace Policies on Sex Buying
Boston — As part of their shared commitment to reduce the demand for illegal sex and raise awareness about sex trafficking, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh convened business and institutional leaders today to announce zero-tolerance policies on sex buying for their workplaces as part of a new initiative called Employers Against Sex Trafficking (EAST).
The announcement followed a meeting between AG Healey, Mayor Walsh and local leaders from 23 businesses and institutions that operate in Massachusetts to discuss ways in which the business community can be proactive in addressing the harms of sex trafficking, including instituting these new policies.
“This is a landmark partnership between the business community and government to end sex buying in Massachusetts,” said AG Healey. “We all owe it to survivors to stop this exploitation of people. I thank Mayor Walsh, the Alliance for Business Leadership, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for their leadership and commend our business community for taking a stand.”
“We cannot end sex trafficking until we reduce the demand for it, and the leadership of the business community is a fundamental part of that process,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am grateful to these businesses for standing with Attorney General Healey and me on this important issue. It is our hope that other employers will join us in implementing zero tolerance policies for the purchase of sex in the workplace and create a safer Boston for all.”
Sex traffickers profit from the exploitation of vulnerable people, which is fueled by the demand of buyers seeking to purchase sex. AG Healey and Mayor Walsh are committed to reducing the demand for the purchase of sex and in April 2016, announced zero-tolerance policies on sex buying for their workplaces. As a part of that announcement, they encouraged other businesses to take similar measures and since then have proactively engaged with the business community to secure those commitments.
Recognizing that buyers are the catalyst for all sex trafficking, these policies explicitly prohibit those who work for these businesses from engaging in any activities related to sex-buying, creating zero tolerance policies for employees soliciting and buying sex.
The business and institutions that have made this commitment today are:
The Alliance for Business Leadership
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Boston Children’s Hospital
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Grossman Marketing Group
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Hillcrest Educational Foundation
Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Tufts Health Plan
“Through both our public advocacy and the application of our technical expertise, IBM is fully committed to the eradication of sex trafficking,” said Julia Abramovich, IBM's Senior Location Executive for Greater Boston. “That goal though can only be achieved through strong collaboration between businesses, government officials and dedicated non-profit organizations worldwide. That’s why this partnership is so important, and we commend Attorney General Healey and Mayor Walsh for bringing this issue to the forefront.”
“I commend Attorney General Healey and Mayor Walsh for their leadership on this important work. As startling as it is, this is a 2018 issue,” said Robert F. Rivers, Chairman & CEO of Eastern Bank. “Exploitation of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities needs to stop. We need to join together as business leaders, government officials, and educators to increase awareness, create safe spaces for victims to come forward for help, and implement zero-tolerance policies in our own companies. Recognizing that the buyers are the catalyst for all sex-trafficking, Eastern Bank has zero-tolerance for employees who engage in sex-buying or other aspects of the exploitation of vulnerable individuals in sex-trafficking. We are committed to continuing our work with our non-profit partners to help the victims and end this horrific practice.”
The AG’s Office and the City of Boston have worked in partnership with the Alliance for Business Leadership, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to form Employers Against Sex Trafficking (EAST), a non-partisan coalition of business leaders who believe in social responsibility and have committed to adopting practices to combat sex trafficking.
“Sex trafficking and the exploitation of young women and girls is unconscionable and heartbreaking,” said JD Chesloff, Executive Director of Massachusetts Business Roundtable. “With demand too often occurring during the work day, businesses can take action to address it. Joining forces with Attorney General Healey and Mayor Walsh to urge employers to adopt zero tolerance policies is a no-brainer and the Roundtable is pleased to support this effort. We offer our thanks to the Attorney General and Mayor for their leadership, and those employers who stepped up today to fight this horrible crime.”
“This is a moment for the business community to lead,” said Jesse Mermell, President of The Alliance for Business Leadership. “The data makes clear that there is an increased demand for the purchase of sex in the middle of the work day, meaning that company time - and potentially company resources - are indirectly supporting sex trafficking. No organization should tolerate this. We are grateful to the Attorney General and the Mayor for bringing this to our attention and to the attention of our members, and for their leadership on behalf some of society's most vulnerable. ABL is proud to be a part of EAST, and is committed to continuing to work with our colleagues in the business community to stand up against sex trafficking.”
“The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce commends Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh for their efforts to end sex-trafficking in Massachusetts, and we are proud to be a partner with them in this work,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “We thank the employers who have already signed on to EAST, and we encourage all in our business community to join us in taking a stand against sex trafficking by instituting a zero-tolerance policy for this disturbing and damaging behavior.”
The issue of demand for commercial sex is relevant to the local business community, as research shows sex buyers often look for purchasing opportunities during business hours or using company equipment. This practice stretches across industry lines. Research from Demand Abolition for the Boston area reveals the peak time for online searching to purchase sex is 2 p.m.– the middle of the work day. State investigations have also revealed that the products, services, and facilities of our businesses and institutions – from hotels to transportation to universities – are being used to facilitate sex trafficking.
In a 2016 Demand Abolition study, it was estimated that more than 20,000 ads selling people for sex are posted online every month, with each ad receiving an average of 52 responses. That research revealed more than 9,000 searches for sex buying opportunities happening in Boston each day.
“The average age that the girls we serve are entering the commercial sex industry is 14 years old,” Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Co-Founder & Director of My Life My Choice. “They are preyed upon by adults who capitalize on their vulnerabilities. And they are bought by men who believe that their predatory desires trump human decency. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is better than this. Thank you to Attorney General Healey and Mayor Walsh for their leadership and for these pioneering businesses who are saying: ‘Not on my watch.’”
“This commitment from the business community is a huge step to what we are all working for – changing public attitudes, sending a clear message that those who pay for sex will now have to consider the consequences of their actions – a major step in ending this harmful practice and creating a more equitable society,” said Cherie Jimenez, Survivor and founder of the EVA Center.
AG Healey, Mayor Walsh and EAST continue to work together on opportunities to proactively address the harms of sex trafficking.
The AG’s Human Trafficking Division focuses on policy, prevention and prosecution and includes a team of specialized prosecutors, victim advocates and Massachusetts State Police troopers who handle high impact, multi-jurisdictional human trafficking investigations and prosecutions across the state. Through the Human Trafficking Division, the AG’s Office has charged more than 40 individuals in connection with human trafficking since the law was passed. The Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prevention policy can be found here.