Written by Jan Jaben-Eilon Tuesday, November 01 2011Snapshot: Scarlet Pressley-Brown, vice president, Delta Air Lines Foundation
Scarlet Pressley-Brown is director of external affairs & community relations for Delta Air Lines and vice president of Delta Air Lines Foundation. Part of her job entails the work that Delta is doing to fight human trafficking. Last year, the Atlanta-based airline became the first major airline to sign the ECPAT(End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) International Code of Conduct for tourism.
She has received awards that include the Outstanding Georgia Citizen award presented by the Georgia secretary of state. The Atlanta Business League named Pressley-Brown one of “Atlanta’s Top Black Women of Influence” for the past six consecutive years, and The Trumpet Awards Foundation presented her the “High Heels in High Places Award.”
She is on the board of directors for the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Business League, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (ATL), the Atlanta Medical Association, the Advisory Council of Ron Clark Academy, and the Agnes Scott Board of Visitors. She is a member of the National Black MBA Association, the Clark Atlanta Guild, the American Institute for Managing Diversity, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Pressley-Brown is part of a blended marriage with five children and two grandchildren.
Womenetics: Why has Delta become interested in human trafficking?
Scarlet Pressley-Brown: When the issue of human trafficking was presented to Delta, the facts and figures were alarming. The fact that the role of the airline industry in this societal ill was identified left no doubt that we had to help eradicate this problem. We realized that we had to begin to develop policies and procedures that would enable our employee base to recognize the problem and address it.
Womenetics: How are pilots and flight attendants trained to identify human trafficking problems?
Pressley-Brown: This is a work in progress. There are so many legal guidelines that we must adhere to in order to empower those on the front line. We must arm them with the tools, resources, and information to effectively handle an issue like child trafficking. You can’t attack everyone who looks suspicious. There must be appropriate steps, and you must educate and inform employees so they can reach out to the appropriate authorities. A child traveling by itself today requires much paperwork so traffickers will often travel with the child. But you must look for strange behavior. If the child can’t make eye contact, or if I ask them their name and they look at the adult traveling with them first, or if they won’t talk to me at all, that’s a warning sign. We have to educate about these issues in our communication outlets, including to our customers, but we must be careful of the legal implications. Where are we from a legal perspective? We need to check into all of this if we’re going to empower our customers and employees. Eventually we will put this information on our website.
Womenetics: How does this effort impact your community relations work in Atlanta?
Pressley-Brown: This strengthens our position as a corporate citizen as we identify the role we want to play in solving human trafficking.
Womenetics: What is your biggest community relations channel vis a vis Delta?
Pressley-Brown: There are so many causes and needs, but our biggest challenge is accepting the fact that we can’t be everything to everybody. The board of directors makes the choices of what we should be focused on.
Womenetics: When you were growing up, how did you think your future would look?
Pressley-Brown: I always knew that what I did would mean something better for someone else. I just didn’t know what it would be.
Womenetics: Who has most influenced your life?
Pressley-Brown: My grandfather and his words of wisdom. He said that in dialoguing with people, good or bad, pay attention and hear what’s not being said, see what’s not being shown, then make your decision.
Womenetics: What would you most like your children to learn about your work?
Pressley-Brown: That it’s true: To whom much is given, much is required.
Jan Jaben-Eilon was a founding staff writer of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Since then, she has been the international editor of Advertising Age magazine and has written for such publications as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Journalism Review, and Consumer Reports. She is the author of soon-to-be-published (There is) Life After Cancer. Jan and her husband have homes in Atlanta and Jerusalem.