OPINION: Why recruitment standards around the world need to change

by Adrian Mansfield | Fair Labour Alliance
Monday, 10 June 2019 10:30 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Job seekers fill up forms as others line up for registration during a job fair in Chinchwad, India, February 7, 2019. Picture taken February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Over 150 million people travel abroad for work opportunities, and may be at risk of falling into modern slavery

Adrian Mansfield is the divisional director of Middle East Recruitment at VHR, and a member of the Fair Labour Alliance.

Despite international organisations and law enforcement agencies making an effort to stop modern slavery, there is still an estimated 40 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world today. Global profit from this is estimated to be around $150 billion. However both the number of people currently working as slaves, and the profits they generate, are likely to be higher than this.

People exploited under slavery are often victims of human trafficking, transported around the world with no agency. Kept under the threat of violence, these people cannot leave, have no resources, and are all too often forgotten about.

Some are even ‘employed’ by businesses who may not know that they’re supporting the illegal slave industry.

How The Fair Labour Alliance Plans To Set Industry Standards For Ethical Recruitment

Part of the problem that drives modern slavery is that the businesses using slave labour aren’t aware they’re doing it.

To solve this problem, The Fair Labour Alliance has been formed with support from the UK Department for International Trade, King’s College London, FSI Worldwide, and VHR Global Recruitment. It aims to educate and empower businesses around the world to recognise modern slavery for what it is, and to stop supporting this crime.

The initiative will operate in some of the countries where slavery or coerced labour are most common, helping businesses identify the signs of slave labour. From there, it will provide support for those businesses looking to recruit high volumes of labour, teaching them how to find qualified workers without exploiting or harming them.

The alliance will also hold events to share practical solutions that businesses have used in their recruitment endeavours. Through networking, businesses will be able to better understand best practices in recruitment, and make changes accordingly. Workers that are free to make their own decisions and that are rewarded and incentivised for their work perform better, and by creating a culture of safety and mutual respect, businesses can cultivate better results. A recent study into the benefits of ethical recruitment shows that after implementing an ethical recruitment model:

  • 71% of business leaders saw an increase in positive worker morale, increasing efficiency
  • 42% observed improved productivity
  • 57% of business leaders reported improved business performance

It will also help recruitment candidates being brought into those areas by teaching them about their rights as workers, warning signs to look out for, and how to report suspicious practices.

Over 150 million people travel abroad for work opportunities, and may be at risk of falling into modern slavery. More needs to be done on a national level – countries and legal bodies should put more resources into fighting slavery and educating the workforce on how to stay safe.

This is all achieved by listening to people with first-hand knowledge of this insidious industry. Survivors can teach us valuable insights into how human traffickers operate, and are vital in exposing and undermining their efforts.

Any recruitment done through an agency should have regular check-ins, and have the infrastructure to allow for anonymous reports of what’s going on at any time. This can help make candidates feel like they have the ability to change things, and make a positive impact in their industry.

There are many organisations tackling this issue, and by learning from each other and creating a strong network, we can make a difference.

To learn more about ethical recruitment, please go to the Fair Labour Alliance website.