Simply the right thing to do

When I was growing up, I wanted to do everything with my friends, to participate in every activity; I couldn’t imagine missing anything. My parents frequently said, “Barbra, you can’t do everything.” It feels the same way when making recommendations on which of the hundreds of worthy causes to support through my corporate responsibility work at Sabre — it’s just hard to say “no.”

In 2011, I was introduced to the fight against human trafficking by BSR, and connected to travel industry champions at Carlson, who invested time educating Sabre. I learned that the fight against human trafficking is an enormous problem that needs enormous support, and Sabre can add unique value.

In late 2011, long-time activist Carlson Chairman Marilyn Carlson Nelson offered to meet with Sabre’s CEO, Sam Gilliland, to discuss the topic. It took only a few minutes before Sam asked, “How can we help?” and we never looked back. A small but mighty team of passionate, dedicated Sabre employees volunteer their time to rapidly advance Sabre’s engagement in the cause. They, too, are frustrated that perpetrators are using the industry we love to make a profit at the expense of those they force, coerce or deceive. For example:

  • Sabre Latin America sales rep Cristina Scott made it her mission for the company to sign the ECPAT Code of Conduct, to protect children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. We announced our commitment to sign earlier this month.
  • Home-based employee Amy Bridges researched and built a Web-based resource center to educate travel agents and assist them in the fight.
  • Technologists Jon Hedblom and John Winstead have a vision for maximizing our technology to help, initially looking at adding content to itineraries of travelers to “hot-spot” destinations.
  • Event coordinators Carrie Mamantov and Karen Wright added the topic to Sabre’s largest travel agent and developer conference, Technology and Marketing University, this year. At his keynote address Bradley Myles, CEO of non-profit Polaris Project, educated 500 attendees about the cause. The audience was incredibly receptive, appreciative of the education, offered to engage, and commended Sabre’s bravery in bringing the topic to them.

Last week I had the honor to represent Sabre at the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report announcement, hosted by Secretary Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington. TIP Heroes were honored and Secretary Clinton made a general statement that confirmed that Sabre has a unique opportunity to contribute to the cause, saying this is a “modern struggle against modern slavery.”

For me, all this confirms that Sabre’s engagement in this fight is not an option; it’s the right thing to do. I stand amazed, appreciative and in admiration of what a handful of passionate people can do to help those they will never meet, all in the name of making a better world, and being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Sabre pays tribute to those who have already made big strides in the fight to help the world’s 27 million victims, but there’s much more to be done. Here on the blog, let us know your thoughts and if you’d like to learn more about the fight against human trafficking.