TRANSPARENTEM is a discreet, non-profit unit that adopts frontline investigative reporting and forensic methods in compliance with international ethical standards to illuminate supply chains and spur eradication of human and environmental abuses. A public service initiative, Transparentem is a sentinel, not a saboteur, to industries at inflection points. The unit believes that securing and improving the lives and environments of workers at all tiers of off-shored industry must start with independent, methodical inquiry.
The initial recipients of Transparentem’s intelligence reports are those whose procurement strategies can rapidly transform markets. The unit commits to telling those recipients—principally brands and retailers that will receive the reports free-of-charge—what they may not, but should, know about those with whom they do business. This includes the activities of their direct and indirect suppliers. After allowing such recipients grace periods for remediation, Transparentem discloses the reports to the public through strategic intermediaries in order to build a sense of urgency, galvanize collective resolve, mobilize resources, and remedy highlighted problems.
The unit’s unprecedented approach orchestrates a cross-border network to illuminate all production tiers, industry by industry. Thereby, it will foster closer, longer-term, strategic relationships between buyers and the sustainable, ethical, scaled, and profitable suppliers of the future. Ultimately, in the focus industries, grave abuses should become rare aberrations, quickly remediated after exposure.
Transparentem is tax exempt in the United States under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is entirely philanthropically funded.
Select Team Bios
E. BENJAMIN SKINNER | Founder and Principal
E. Benjamin Skinner is Founder and Principal of Transparentem. Previously, he was Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism of Brandeis University. He was named one of National Geographic’s “Adventurers of the Year 2008.” His first book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery (Free Press; 2008), was awarded the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction, a citation from the Overseas Press Club in its book category for 2008, and a finalist for The Ryszard Kapuscinski International Award for literary reportage in 2011. Also in 2011, the World Economic Forum recognized Skinner as a Young Global Leader.
Previously he held a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, served as Special Assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and worked as Research Associate for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His 50+ chapters, monographs, and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Time, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and others. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
In 2013, Skinner co-founded TAU, a private equity firm in which he is no longer operational, and with which Transparentem has no affiliation.
RACHEL JACKSON | Director of Operations
Rachel Jackson is Director of Operations at Transparentem. Prior to joining Transparentem, she was an Associate at Bennett Midland, a management consulting firm that works with public agencies, nonprofits, and other civic organizations. Previously, Jackson served as a Senior Research Specialist at Innovations for Successful Societies, a Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School for International and Public Affairs research program that chronicles government innovation in challenging contexts. There, she focused on election violence, police reform, and deforestation and worked in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Jackson previously worked as a reporter for legal news website Main Justice covering U.S. and international anti-corruption enforcement. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University.
SUMEET BHATTI BODINGTON | Director of Stakeholder Relations
Sumeet Bhatti Bodington is Director of Stakeholder Relations at Transparentem. Most recently, she was a Programme Manager at C&A Foundation where she managed supply chain projects with factories, sourcing offices, companies and NGOs in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India and Turkey. Previously, Bhatti Bodington worked with the Global Health and Sustainability teams at PepsiCo, Inc. where she and her team brokered a public-private partnership with USAID. She also worked as an Evaluation Consultant at the World Bank on a number of projects, including a $250 million public health project with the Indian federal and state governments. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University, and a master’s degree in environmental and energy policy from Columbia University.
JARED GENSER | Outside General Counsel
Jared Genser is outside general counsel for Transparentem and Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, a law and consulting firm that focuses on human rights, humanitarian, and corporate social responsibility projects. He is also founder of Freedom Now, a non-governmental organization that works to free prisoners of conscience worldwide. Previously, Genser was a partner in the government affairs practice of DLA Piper LLP and a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. He has taught semester-long seminars about the UN Security Council at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania law schools.
His pro bono clients have included former Czech Republic President Václav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel. Genser holds a B.S. from Cornell University, an M.P.P. from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was an Alumni Public Service Fellow, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He is co-editor of The UN Security Council in the Age of Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award, Liberty in North Korea’s Freedom Fighter Award, and the Charles Bronfman Prize. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. In addition to being qualified to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia, he is also a Solicitor of England & Wales.
SANA AHMED | Program Assistant
Sana Ahmed is Program Assistant at Transparentem. Recently, she was Program Coordinator at the Global Business Coalition for Education, working with the Membership Management and Recruitment Team. There, she helped provide services to corporate members investing and engaging in education. While working at GBC-Education, she also worked on the A World at School Global Youth Ambassador program, where she provided assistance to over 500 youth in over 85 countries advocating for education. She is a graduate of UCLA.
Board of Directors includes
TIM ISGITT (Chair) | Humanity United
Tim Isgitt is a Managing Director at Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to bringing new approaches to global problems that have long been considered intractable. There, he oversees the Strategic Communications portfolio. With a focus on strengthening and supporting HU’s work, he is responsible for communications strategy and media partnerships.
Prior to joining HU, Tim was the Senior Vice President for Communications and Government Affairs at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Previously, he served in the U.S. State Department as special advisor to the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Tim was a manager of public affairs at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in New York, and an associate with the D.C.-based lobbying firm Meyers & Associates.
Tim began his career as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University.
NICK GRONO | Freedom Fund
Nick Grono is the inaugural CEO of the Freedom Fund. The Fund is an ambitious effort to mobilize the knowledge and capital needed to end modern slavery. It was launched by President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2013, who declared at the time, “This is a huge deal and we should all support this.”
In its first two years of operation the Freedom Fund has worked with some 100 frontline partners around the world to liberate over 6,500 people from slavery and return over 17,000 at risk children back to school. Overall, its programs have positively impacted the lives of over 150,000 of those most vulnerable to exploitation.
Previously, Nick was the CEO of the Walk Free Foundation, a leading international actor in the fight against modern slavery, and before that he was the Deputy President and COO of the International Crisis Group, the world’s leading conflict prevention NGO.
Nick is a lawyer by background and worked as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to the Australian Attorney-General from 1999-2001.
EMILY MARTINEZ | Open Society Foundation
Emily Martinez is the director of Open Society Foundations’ Human Rights Initiative. Previously, she established and directed four global grant-making programs on disability rights, LGBTI rights, the rights of criminal defendants, and the right to information. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Martinez was the director of the Open Society Human Rights and Governance Grants Program in Budapest, where she helped promote the development of human rights and accountability groups in Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. As the program’s founding director, she developed expertise on a broad range of fundamental human rights issues in that region, as well as civil society’s role in promoting rule of law and accountable governance.
Martinez holds an MA in human rights from the University of Essex. She also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a BS in international affairs and developmental economics.
JILL TUCKER | C&A Foundation
Head of Supply Chain Innovation and Transformation C&A Foundation Jill Tucker is recognized within the apparel and footwear industries as an authority on delivering innovations that change the status quo to the benefit of workers. She joined C&A Foundation in 2015 and leads their global programs to improve working conditions. Her three decades in grant-making and social compliance work include building and leading Reebok International Ltd’s Asia human rights program (1997 – 2005) in which her staff supported free and open union elections in Chinese factories. More recently, she headed up the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia program (2011 – 2014) where under her leadership, factory audit information for all apparel factories began to be publicly disclosed. Earlier, Jill worked for a decade with The Asia Foundation, with postings in San Francisco, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Jill earned a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts.
MONIQUE VILLA | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monique Villa is CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Founder of TrustLaw and Trust Women. She has been ranked among the world’s 100 most influential people in Business Ethics by Ethisphere. Since her appointment in 2008, she has transformed the Foundation, launching a number of programs that leverage the expertise of Thomson Reuters to trigger change and empower people across the world. Among them, TrustLaw, the Foundation’s global pro bono program dedicated to spreading the practice of pro bono. Villa is also the founder of Trust Women, a fast-growing movement to empower women and to fight slavery worldwide.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Villa was Managing Director of Reuters Media and Chairman of Action Images. A French national, she spent the first part of her career at Agence France-Presse (AFP) where she held a number of senior journalistic and management positions. Monique received the 2015 Champions for Change Award for her vision and effort in the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Under Villa, the Foundation has received numerous awards, including a Webby Award for Best News Website; a SOPA Award for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting, a Charity Award for Advice, Support, and Advocacy, and a Communicator Award for Excellence.
KYLE WRIGHT (Treasurer)| Stardust Fund
Kyle Wright is CEO of Stardust, a family office that oversees a dynamic portfolio of projects, investments, and social benefit ventures. For nearly a decade, he has lead Stardust’s strategic initiatives, including the organization’s commitment to align its investment portfolio with social justice principles.
Kyle is a key advisor to the Stardust Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to social participation and power of excluded and exploited people. He currently serves on the boards of directors of Texas Civil Rights Project and Transparentem, and is a member of the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking and South Texas College of Law Clinics Advisory Council.
A Texas native, Kyle holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D., cum laude, from South Texas College of Law. Kyle resides in Houston with his wife and daughters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Transparentem?
We are a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose mission is to spur transparency and accelerate ethical behavior in important global industries. Currently, we are focused on apparel, footwear, and accessories. A public service initiative, we are tax exempt in the United States under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Where are you based?
Our global team specializes in collecting frontline information on all areas of concern. Our mailing address is:
405 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10174
How is Transparentem funded?
We are entirely philanthropically funded by individuals and foundations, several of which are represented on our board.
Does Transparentem solicit or accept fees or commissions from brands, retailers, or importers?
Do you have a protocol regarding conflicts of interest?
Yes. Our operating procedures ensure our independence from the subjects of our work. Transparentem does not allow its funders to direct or interfere with investigations. Further, our grant agreements with corporate foundation funders state that we will treat the for-profit arm of the non-profit foundation “in the same way that any other brand or retailer would be treated and without special treatment of any kind.”
How do you decide what to investigate?
We investigate evidence of endemic problems that affect the health and welfare of a substantial number of workers and communities. We strive to inform brands, retailers, and importers, who in our view, could and should accelerate positive impact not only within their own supply groups, but throughout their industries.
Are you focusing only on American and European brands and retailers?
What is a PIN?
A Primary Intelligence Note, or PIN, is a heavily-detailed distillation of confirmed findings gathered from Transparentem’s analysts and investigators. We adhere to the highest ethical standards of investigative journalism as provided by the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists and comply with international best practices. We are committed to delivering an intelligence report that is responsible, accurate, specific, valuable, and most importantly, pragmatically actionable.
Who are the initial recipients of the PINs?
The initial recipients of our PINs are principally major brands and retailers, and include any entity whose purchasing practices and sourcing strategies can rapidly transform markets. Under confidentiality agreements in order to protect sources and methods, we may allow those recipients to view carefully-selected evidence that may not be included in the written PINs. This is to demonstrate the accuracy of our findings, while protecting vulnerable sources.
What are “grace periods”?
We offer PIN recipients who sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) time-bound grace periods starting from our first requests for meetings to discuss the PINs. During those grace periods, we agree to delay further release of the contents of the PINs and the identities of the companies named in them.
In certain cases, we may suggest that problems would be best resolved through collaboration among PIN recipients with common suppliers and/or common concerns. In such cases, we may offer to connect such brands through double opt-in introductions.
Who else will receive PINs?
Following the end of the grace periods, we do not directly disclose the PINs to the general public. However, we deliver aggregate, updated PINs reflecting the responses of initial recipients, to those who can exercise leverage for positive change. Those secondary recipients may include select investors, regulators, advocacy organizations, and/or journalists.
How do you engage with investigated supply groups?
Investigated supply groups are welcome to provide relevant information.
Are you targeting brands and retailers?
No. Our teams investigate evidence of endemic problems upstream in supply chains. Such problems may be in direct or indirect supplier groups of brands, retailers, or importers that would be, or in our view should be, interested in learning more about our findings.
The procurement strategies of brands, retailers, and importers can rapidly transform markets. We share our findings on those with whom PIN recipients do business because those recipients are well positioned to influence remediation or other actions within their supplier groups.
Why don’t you share names of the investigated suppliers before your meetings with brands, retailers, or importers?
Because electronic communications are inherently insecure, we will not disclose sensitive information until we can meet privately, in-person. This is primarily to ensure the safety of vulnerable sources, including children, but also to honor the scrupulously accurate and discreet nature of our engagement with all PIN recipients during the first stage of delivery.
What if a brand is not interested in meeting with you?
In cases where a brand is unable or unwilling to meet, our policy is to share hard copies of the PINs with the intended recipient’s CEO and board members simultaneously. Included with these PINs will be copies of any correspondence, except that which we have agreed to keep confidential, with the initial recipients. The written PINs present proof of the violations in fuller context, but leave out the more sensitive, detailed information, including video footage, that we offer to present during in-person meetings.
Where do you hold presentations?
We typically present at the headquarters of PIN recipients, but we are willing to meet in any secure location that is mutually convenient.
What happens after the presentations?
At the presentations, we will deliver written PINs to the recipients. These initial PINs may help inform subsequent internal investigations and action. We ask that recipients not relay specific citations to anyone outside of their own companies. We hope to provide recipients with enough time to research and respond to the current and actionable issues outlined in the reports before they are disclosed more widely.
What do you want PIN recipients to do?
We do not prescribe or prejudge what response would best serve PIN recipients, their suppliers, or other effected parties. We would be happy to discuss options, but we remind recipients that Transparentem is not the ultimate audience for their responses.
What is disclosure?
Our ultimate service is to the public. That means that regardless of company responses, we will eventually release updated PINs to others, including company board members, and select investors, regulators, and/or journalists.
When do you disclose?
We move forward with disclosure after the ends of the grace periods.
What do you disclose?
We disclose aggregate, updated PINs. We update the PINs with any relevant new information, including:
1.) Any evidence that either confirms or is at odds with our findings;
2.) Any non-proprietary communication with supplier(s) pertinent to our investigation; and
3.) Any written response or remediation plan to the issues outlined in our investigation.