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Cambodia: Six companies, including banks and casinos, sign pledge to fight slavery in Asia

"Big Brands From Banks to Casinos Unite to Fight Slavery in Asia," 16 January 2018

From hotel chains to clothing brands, a group of companies in Asia is hoping that a corporate-backed movement to end modern slavery will succeed where activists have failed.

The casino and hotel giant MGM China Holdings Ltd. recently signed the “business pledge against modern slavery,” an initiative of the Hong Kong-based non-profit, the Mekong Club.

“We believe by taking a public stance we may also contribute to encouraging others to join the fight,” said Grant Bowie, MGM's CEO.

Activists have fought for years to end the trade and their main tool has been to “name and shame” companies, but it hasn’t worked, according to Mekong Club CEO Matt Friedman.

He said that only about 66,000 people were freed from slavery last year, globally. While activists often see the business community as the enemy, there is actually “tremendous goodwill.”

..Six companies have signed the pledge, which requires them to take concrete steps, which include monitoring operations and creating policies to prevent slavery.

One signatory, VF Co., began in 2016 to audit 120 factories that supply materials for its brands, which include The North Face, Wrangler and Vans.

While the spotlight has long been on the apparel industry, it affects other not so obvious sectors too, such as banking.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia became the latest company to commit to the business pledge...