Q+A with Justice and Care CEO James Clarry 

October 24, 2023

Justice and Care’s new CEO, James Clarry, has looked back on his first weeks and shared why he is determined to stop modern slavery in its tracks.

James joined us in September from Coutts, a private bank where he has been Chief Operating Officer for the past six years, and has decades of experience in the legal and corporate sectors.

He and his wife, Annie, have been long-term supporters of Justice and Care and he joins our charity at a critical time where there are more people enslaved than at any other time in history.

How are you finding your new role, James?

I am regularly saying to people, I think I have the best job in London. Human trafficking is such a prevalent issue with so many complex drivers and it’s not a simple problem to solve. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of thinking how we can best position ourselves. 

I also love working with the people, I think we’ve just got an exceptional team and there is so much opportunity here. It is a lovely combination of personal drivers for me and there is a chance for us to make a massive difference together.

What have you been up to since joining to lead the team?

I’ve really enjoyed spending time with some of our donors, meeting with others in the sector and travelling to see our frontline teams to understand more about what they do day-to-day in caring for and empowering survivors. One other highlight was joining Theresa May at the launch of the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. This is a global problem and we don’t have many global solutions, so it was great to see some new political momentum behind this.

Why did you decide to leave banking for charity work?

When I told people that I was leaving to join an NGO, very few people who know me were surprised. Although I have worked in banking, I have been investing in NGOs in my spare time. I’ve been on advisory boards of NGOs, I was very active in Corporate Social Responsibility activities within the bank and in helping it become a B Corp. I’ve always known that I would give my best years to an NGO, I just didn’t know whether that was when I was 49, 51 or 54, but an opportunity came up and I was delighted that it coincided with Justice and Care.

On another note, it isn’t such a big jump because what you do as a CEO in an NGO is not that different to what you do as a CEO or COO in a bank. It is about supporting great people to do their best work and achieve their potential, leading the execution of strategic plans, energising people and giving them the space to innovate and work through their passion for changing the systems that hold people in slavery and exploitation.

Do you remember the moment you knew you had to join the fight against modern slavery?

It was actually when I visited the work of Justice and Care in Mumbai, in the Red Light District 11 years ago. I remember meeting survivors and being utterly appalled at how girls were being exploited. Yet, I also saw how much hope there was through the programme that we ran and this drove my wife Annie and I to be supporters. I was so impressed at the time that there was a model for direct action.

Since becoming CEO, I’ve been struck by a number of survivor stories. I have just returned from visiting our work in Bangladesh and was completely blown away by the depth of impact that we are having in this wonderful country.  We are supporting the government and law enforcement agencies with hundreds of cases and senior officials repeatedly told me how much they value our essential support in care, prosecutions, training and policy change.

I met one incredible woman, one of our Champion Survivors, who had been sold by her husband to a brothel in India, along with her three-month-old child. She was forced to work in the brothel, under threat that her child would be killed. We supported her repatriation to Bangladesh and her reintegration and healing. Several years later, she is now employed by Justice and Care helping other survivors of trafficking.  She is so impressive, with a broad smile and told me about how her role in Justice and Care has helped her to restore her dignity. We are lucky to have her work with us, and it was an absolute privilege to hear her incredible story of resilience and hope. 

What can we expect to see from your early days at Justice and Care?

My 90-day plan is all about learning, listening and understanding and I’ve been reaching for as many voices as possible. I’m very reluctant to make any major decisions in the first three months. but I’m already building a picture of what I think we should do and how we should do it. That’s all very exciting because we have such a strong foundation and there are plenty of opportunities for growth and scalability.