- (Photo: Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility Facebook)
Seven of America's top banks were given a score and ranked on a number of key areas related to human slavery in a report by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, with Goldman Sachs receiving the highest, most favorable score, and Wells Fargo coming in at last place.
The ranking is featured in ICCR's annual report titled "Breaking the Bonds: Modern Day Strategies to Counter Modern Day Slavery," a copy of which was obtained by The Christian Post.
"The enslavement of approximately 12 million women, 3 million men and 6 million children into forced labor or sexual activity is a chilling reminder of how the power of greed can poison our world. Not surprisingly some corporations are unwitting participants in this troubling practice," ICCR Chair David Foster writes in the report.
ICCR has published numerous reports and works to promote corporate practices where long term business growth goes hand-in-hand with improving environmental and social impacts.
"Whether from our offices here in New York City or in locations around the world, there is no issue that is more urgently central to building a more just world than our efforts to eradicate modern day slavery," added ICCR Executive Director Laura Berry.
The report is aimed at raising awareness for trafficking and slavery, and argues that companies' entire supply chains need a comprehensive assessment to determine the potential risk of human rights violations.
ICCR has started a number of anti-trafficking initiatives in the last few years with that purpose, including the "Effective Supply Chain Accountability" guide and the "Corporate Strategies to Address Human Trafficking" report which looked into the anti-trafficking campaign during the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
The bank rankings come from a 2012 initiative where ICCR and Sustainalytics members fielded a survey in the form of a questionnaire to the top seven U.S. Banks – Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. The goal of the effort was to identify their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to topics such as risk management and responsible lending and investment practices, and to assess where the banks might be under-performing in relation to their peers.
Of the seven banks, Goldman Sachs received the highest score at 60, with ICCR noting that the score "reflects a noticeable improvement in the bank's level of transparency as well as its stronger compliance system."
Well Fargo, on the other hand, received the lowest score at 51, with the report arguing that the bank "demonstrated some weaknesses in regard to its risk management, overall business practices, and responsible lending and investment practices."
The report concluded that the banks had shown improvement in the areas of disclosure and engagement with stakeholders, but warned that more transparency is needed to explain how environmental and social risks are managed.
"Each of the banks included in the survey displayed the uniqueness of their culture through the survey process," said the Rev. Seamus Finn, OMI, a key contributor to the report. "This was obvious both in their overall responses to the project and in their answers to specific questions."
Other organizations involved in the fight against human slavery have also focused on the important role of corporate responsibility and the consumer.
The Price of Life campaign by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which is currently running a 12-day program at campuses in New York, is advising people to ask whether the products they purchase have been made by slave labor or not, such as chocolate at grocery stores or coffee at coffee shops.