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Discussions with Delta Address Human Trafficking

March 24, 2011

By Susan Makos, Mercy Investment Services

For more than two years, Mercy Investment Services has engaged Delta Airlines on the devastation of human trafficking.

As a member of the travel industry, Delta has the opportunity to spot the warning signs and possibly end instances of human trafficking. The countless hours of conversations paid off earlier this month when Delta became the first domestic airline to sign the Code, a standard for those in the tourism industry working to end human trafficking.

Prior to its merger with Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines indicated to End Children Prostitution and Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) that it would consider signing the Code, which encourages companies in the tourism industry to:

  • establish ethical corporate policies regarding the sexual exploitation of children;
  • train hotel personnel;
  • incorporate the code into their vendor contracts;
  • educate travelers;
  • and annually report on their efforts to end human trafficking.

After the merger, Sr. Valerie Heinonen, OSU, director of shareholder advocacy for MIS, and representatives from ECPAT attended Delta’s annual meetings in 2009 and 2010 to ask if Delta would sign the Code. After the 2010 meeting, one of Delta’s executives began conversations with ECPAT and Mercy Investment Services. Due to the slow progress, Mercy Investment Services filed a resolution in 2010 asking Delta Airlines to address the issue of child sex tourism and sign the Code. As a result of positive discussions, Mercy withdrew the resolution and ECPAT approved Delta’s application making it the first domestic airline, second only to Air France, to adopt the Code. While hundreds of organizations in the travel industry worldwide have signed the Code, only three U.S. organizations have.

By signing the Code, Delta has agreed to implement policies that condemn child trafficking and train employees to identify and report trafficking activities. Delta also plans to include information about ECPAT and the Code on its website and in its Sky magazine.

Click here to read more about this engagement and a press release on the signing.

Our work with Delta is just one example of how our shareholder advocacy efforts can generate positive results. Effective shareholder engagement requires ongoing conversations and relationship development with companies, which can be a lengthy process. Filing resolutions is only one tool in the shareholder advocacy process. In many cases, corporate dialogues may be more effective than resolutions in creating change. Because of the fluid and evolving nature of dialogues and resolutions, we encourage you to visithttp://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/ to learn more about our corporate engagements.

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