1st Nov 2022: 5 key issues (root causes) that companies/brands/MSIs participating in yet another Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment #GFRR2022 need to consider to understand why ethical recruitment is not becoming a workable reality on the ground
Many global companies and brands and MSIs claim to adhere or aspire to international standards on ethical or responsible recruitment. And there are so many booklets and guides explaining how to do it that come before us. But none of this does, in my humble opinion, address effectively or raise for discussion properly any of the five main root causes of unethical recruitment which are as follows
1. Destination country government migration management systemic corruption (Malaysia is a perfect case example) – bribes for migrant quotas, every stage of process hidden costs
2. Problematic destination country agents, intermediaries and HR officials and their financial irregularities and corruption, extortion and kickbacks. And my solution, control destination country agents or remove them totally from the picture, too high risk and for the most part just vehicles for corruption, no practical benefits at all for employers
3. Problematic manpower agency and employer service agreements and terms and conditions of recruitment – high risk issues include lack of advance payment arrangements to agents, too stringent and unfair liability clauses and penalties, unrealistic timelines and unrealistic budgets – all of these which incentivize agents holding worker passports or charging them costs due to cash flow or other practical issues, or incentivizing cutting corners
4. Lack of regularisation of recruitment intermediaries at source country (exception of Myanmar in Asia) – the existing model of using recruitment intermediaries is cultural and prevalent but illegal and hence not regularised
5. Poor manpower agency sourcing methods to recruit workers at source (a KEY issue)
Key to ethical recruitment, once the 1-3 issues have been acknowledged and addressed by an employer (and destination country agents and buyers/brands), and given 4, is number 5, the sourcing methods of workers. This is where real effort, innovation and support is needed to change from a sourcing model where agencies do nothing at all but wait for workers to come to them (risky and abusive), to a model where agencies actively and responsibly reach out for workers and begin to source workers using contracted field staff, reliable actors, innovative methods like village campaigns, job fairs, responsible social media.
This responsible sourcing of workers is really responsible recruitment yet its not occuring, nor is it even being debated or encouraged by groups like CGF, IOM IRIS, RBA, and the Leadership Group on Responsible Recruitment
1-3 are for employers, we all need to support them with capacity/finance to do this for sure
4 is difficult, it’s a governance issue
5 is for source country agents, we need to incentivize and support them to genuinely do ethical worker sourcing and it takes time, money, effort and bravery. No one is helping agents in the source country here, no one is offering practical and innovative solutions beyond theory and the usual ‘orders’ to be ethical.
And my mantra – trust before technology. Technology and its benefits cannot be fully harnessed for good until workers trust the people behind it.
See: ‘How can responsible recruitment of migrant workers move from rhetoric to reality?’ Andy Hall, Migrant Worker Rights Specialist at https://www.business-humanrights.org/de/blog/how-can-responsible-recruitment-of-migrant-workers-move-from-rhetoric-to-reality/