At Gumball, Ann has leveraged these core business strengths to take her company to new heights, but even more importantly, to combat human trafficking.
Joining the Employers Alliance
The BEST Employers Alliance is a national coalition of employers and associations committed to reducing sex trafficking and buying. Gumball joined the BEST Employers Alliance in 2016, although the company had taken a stand against human trafficking long before that.
During our discussion, Ann explained why joining the Alliance was important for her and her company. “I joined the Employers Alliance because I want to be as loud as I can about preventing human trafficking. Nothing we do in business really matters if we don't attempt to change the world in a colossal way.” This is Gumball’s mission – to change the world through liberating people. “Our goal is to liberate people. All people. Whether that be ourselves, business leaders, community leaders or those who are enslaved,” said Ann.
America the Free
The word ‘slavery’ often has a connection to history for Americans; it’s the sad period in our past in which women and men were bought, sold, and forced into labor. Sure, its left a terrible legacy in its wake but at least after the 13th Amendment, it no longer exists. Right? Unfortunately, that’s incorrect. Slavery, is in fact, very much alive. As Ann points out, “we are a country that prides itself on being a free nation yet slaves still live among us daily.”
“I feel there is a general lack of understanding around the issue,” she states. This might be because modern slavery looks very different than it did in the past and it’s largely hidden underground.
Rough estimates are that twenty-two million people are currently enslaved across the globe. Human slavery is as large today, if not larger, than any other time in history. Of these, twelve million are estimated to be sex slaves. Most of these sex slaves are girls, and research indicates that the majority range in age from 6-18 years old. To Ann, human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, is gender-based oppression.
When it comes to slavery, Ann explains, “Gender is the new color. My company wanted to take a stand against this crime and joining the Alliance was an important step we could take to stop the exploitation of women and girls.”
Importance of Corporate Values
At Gumball, being values-driven is woven into the very fabric of the organization. This is because Dorgan believes that creating a philanthropic culture within an organization is essential and should be part of any strategic business plan to grow a company. “For a company to grow, they must have 4 types of goals: 1) business goals, 2) leadership goals, 3) team goals and, equally important, is the 4) social or citizenship goal. Incorporating the social goal into your business strategy not only builds comradery amongst employees, but it also gives a higher meaning and purpose to your work.”
Creating meaning and purpose within your corporate culture may be more important than you think. The 2015 Community Involvement study conducted by Boston College found that over 85% of respondents said corporate citizenship enhances their reputation, and nearly 70% said it improves their ability to recruit and retain employees. According to Ann, “We live in a country that is affluent, and where people are seeking work that gives them more than just the means to survive. So because we have this privilege, we have a responsibility to those in our country, and out, to assure they have the chance to thrive too.”
Gumball Enterprises not only joined the Employers Alliance, but it gives 5% of all earnings, after expenses, to organizations devoted to the liberation of slaves. Having the chance to speak with Ann about her commitment to corporate philanthropy and positive leadership was invaluable. We discussed the stance on giving anonymously or to give publicly. Dorgan’s point of view is that business leaders have the opportunity to be models for positive change. Giving publicly or privately both are good acts, however for her, giving publicly is a way Gumball can model what they believe in and what they hope other businesses will do.
Under Dorgan’s leadership, Gumball Enterprises is setting high standards, but they’re standards we’re certain all of our Employers Alliance members are striving to reach. We want to thank Ann for sharing her thoughts and thank all of the employers who have committed to fighting this crime with us. We keep saying it, but it’s worth repeating-- businesses have the power to end Human Trafficking.