An Introduction to the Fair Hiring Toolkit for Multi-Stakeholder and Multi-Brand Initiatives

Multi-Stakeholder Approaches: In Focus

Tackling forced labor in West African cocoa.
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In this Fair Hiring Toolkit, multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives will find material that parallels their own work. This includes standard setting and policy development, assessments and social auditing, corrective action, and other forms of engagement.

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – IMPROVING CODES OF CONDUCT AND COMPANY POLICIES

High level corporate policies or code-of-conduct language on forced labor, human trafficking and the vulnerabilities of migrant workers is a critical first step for brands in addressing these risks in global supply chains. However, most codes of conduct – including those developed by multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives – do not address these risks comprehensively or in the detail they deserve.

Like brands, suppliers should develop a code of conduct or high-level company policy that makes an explicit commitment to a fair and legal workplace and sets out special protections for migrant workers. Developing a code of conduct or specific policy language on fair hiring is a proactive first step that can help suppliers:

  • Begin to discuss these issues with brands on their own terms;
  • Move away from reactive and defensive positions of responding only to the latest problem; and
  • Take a management systems approach to root-out problems where they occur and prevent them from recurring.

For this reason, the Fair Hiring Toolkit provides guidance on improving code-of-conduct language and strengthening brand and supplier policies. It also sets out measurable benchmarks to help brands and suppliers determine whether or not they are compliant with each new policy provision.

Supply chain initiatives can review these tools and use them in their own engagement of brand members. They can also use them to revise existing supply chain policies to ensure their full coverage of forced labor and protections for migrant workers. Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives – to the extent that they engage suppliers directly – will also find these tools useful in their efforts to address policy development and benchmarking in the supply chain.

Below is a list of tools with the Fair Hiring Toolkit that we gathered for their relevance to Multi-Stakeholder and Multi-Brand Initiatives

Sample Code of Conduct Provisions
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This tool is designed to provide brands and suppliers with sample code-of-conduct language to develop, revise and, thus, strengthen corporate and supply chain policies prohibiting forced labor and human trafficking, and setting out protections for migrant workers. It recommends strong, comprehensive and clear provisions on issues ranging from recruitment fees and document retention to freedom of movement and deception in wage payments. Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives may find this tool valuable as they engage their own members on strengthening codes of conduct.

 

Sample Benchmarks of Good Practice in Recruitment and Hiring
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These benchmarks are aligned with the sample code of conduct provisions developed for brands and suppliers. They can be used to measure and evaluate performance against each provision and as an indicator of good practice. They can also be integrated into assessment or auditing protocols to establish a framework for supply chain monitoring. Multi-brand and multi-stakeholder initiatives can use the benchmarks in their own auditing programs or to identify and promote what “good” looks like in company action against forced labor.

 

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – RAISING AWARENESS AND BUILDING CAPACITY

Company policies and supply chain codes will not be effectively implemented unless the issues they address are fully understood by management and staff. A company that is well-trained and informed will be in a strong position to successfully translate new policies into effective and sustainable practice.

Awareness raising, training and capacity building are among the key strategies used by companies to implement their codes of conduct. With this in mind, the Fair Hiring Toolkit provides two tools that can help brands and suppliers better understand the risks they face of forced labor and human trafficking. These tools include a set of indicators or “red flags” of risk and vulnerability that identify common forms of abuse and deception in recruitment and hiring and a broad introduction to recruiter-induced exploitation that includes a review of international standards, the global scope of the problem, and the respective roles of unscrupulous recruiters and employers in exacerbating or driving it.

Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives can integrate these tools into their existing training and awareness raising programs for members. They can also disseminate them within their internal and external networks to facilitate broader learning on these issues, and to engage suppliers directly or to support the efforts of their brand members in doing so.

What Should You Look For? Identifying Brand Risk and Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Forced Labor of Migrant Workers
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This tool provides companies with a complete list of indicators or “red flags” of recruiter-induced forced labor. It translates Verité’s global research on human trafficking into a clearly defined set of problems and abuses that companies should be aware of and company auditors should look for. These are common forms of exploitation facing migrant workers in the global economy that may indicate a risk of forced labor. Multi-brand and multi-stakeholder initiatives can use them in auditor training and to advance learning on key and emerging issues in the supply chain.
Understanding Recruiter-Induced Forced Labor
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It is important for companies to have a strong understanding of recruiter-induced forced labor if they are to tackle it effectively. This tool meets this need by providing an overview of the issue. It provides:
  • The legal definitions of forced labor and human trafficking found in international Conventions;
  • A discussion of the global scope of the problem and the respective roles of recruiters and employers in exacerbating or perpetuating it; and
  • A consideration of the case for taking action to eliminate abuse and protecting migrant workers.

Like other material in the Fair Hiring Toolkit, this tool can be integrated into training and awareness raising programs coordinated or implemented by supply chain initiatives.

BRANDS – STRENGTHENING ASSESSMENTS AND SOCIAL AUDITS

Social audits are the primary tool used by brands today to assess supply chain compliance, and detect violations and worker abuse. Most social auditors, however, are not equipped to identify such abuse or to facilitate the corrective action necessary to deal with it effectively.

The Fair Hiring Toolkit addresses this weakness by providing five critical tools that mirror the methods used by social auditors in the performance of a standard social audit. These tools can help to strengthen such assessments. They include:

  • A short guide to auditing workplaces for forced labor and the trafficking of migrant workers;
  • A sample management interview for discussing forced labor, human trafficking and the role of labor recruiters;
  • A sample worker interview covering the same topics for discussions with migrant and foreign contract workers;
  • A sample recruiter interview to help assess the recruitment and hiring practices of recruiters directly; and
  • Guidance for reviewing supplier and recruiter documentation.

Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives are often involved in debates about social auditing and, in some cases, conduct these assessments themselves in the context of certification or accreditation systems. They can use these tools to strengthen their own audit protocols, auditor certification/accreditation processes, or to encourage brand members to integrate them into their respective systems.

Guidance for the Social Auditing of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking of Migrant Workers
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Auditing forced labor can present a number of significant challenges for brands and third party auditors, not least the fact that abuse is often hidden and deception is its key feature. This tool provides brands with general tips on improving the effectiveness of audits, including technical guidance on interviewing managers, workers and recruiters, and reviewing company documentation. The tool acts as a general framework for the others provided in the brand section on improving assessments and social audits. Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives are encouraged to review this tool and consider strengthening their own audit guidance, where relevant.

 

Management Interview: Migrant and Foreign Contract Workers
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The management interview tool is designed to provide auditors with guidance on speaking to supplier managers about migrant and foreign contract workers. It recommends discussing the profile of migrant workers in the facility, the selection process used for screening and contracting recruiters, and supplier oversight of the recruitment process. It also addresses key forms of abuse linked to recruitment fees and expenses, passport retention, wage deductions and deception in contracts of employment, among others. Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives are encouraged to review this tool to learn more about how brands can make discussions with supplier management during the audit process more effective.

 

Migrant Worker Interview Topics
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Like the management interview, this tool provides brand and third party auditors with recommendations on improving their interviews with migrant and foreign contract workers. It sets out the topics that auditors should discuss and explains the rationale for doing so. Migrant workers are a key source of information about recruitment and hiring practices; yet many auditors don’t know the right questions to ask, or how to do so. This tool addresses these needs.

 

Guidance for Auditors on Conducting Labor Recruiter Interviews
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Recruiter interviews are not typically integrated into standard social auditing procedures. This Toolkit, however, argues that genuine supply chain compliance must begin with fair hiring. This means that, where relevant, recruiters must be part of the brand audit process and included in other supply chain assessment programs. To this end, the tools provided here include a guide for interviewing recruiters. It recommends discussing the general profile of the agency and its business; the profile of migrant workers sent to the brand’s suppliers; the overall recruitment and hiring process used; and other issues such as fees and expenses, contractual arrangements, and worker documents.

 

Guidance for Reviewing Documents
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The Toolkit also provides guidance on improving the review of supplier and recruiter documentation to better address the risks posed to migrant workers. It recommends cross-checking information gathered from workplace interviews with information gathered from wage slips, company policies, contracts of employment, written grievances and other materials. This review can help auditors gain a clearer picture of working conditions at the facility, and shed light on the relationship between suppliers, their recruiters and migrant workers.

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – TAKING CORRECTIVE ACTION

A case of forced labor in the supply chain must be dealt with immediately, firmly and comprehensively; and the response must consider the needs and well-being of the affected worker(s) first and foremost. Corrective action should provide for the full protection of the worker, and measures should be taken to support their rehabilitation (including physical and mental health), their repatriation (if desired by the worker), and their reintegration into the labor market and community.

Corrective action is the most important element of a brand’s engagement against the trafficking of migrant workers, if it is discovered in the supply chain. This action – if implemented correctly – will lead to changes in the workplace, redress the wrongs experienced by workers, and effectively improve recruitment and hiring conditions.

It is also important to recognize that many companies may have the means and mechanisms to respond and react to non-conformance issues surfaced during social audits, but they may not be well-positioned to anticipate and avoid these problems in the first place, or to prevent them from happening again. Facility audits have shown that social responsibility problems tend to persist when remedial or corrective actions are either poorly maintained or are not implemented at all. Developing a systems improvement plan that includes corrective and preventive measures helps brands and their suppliers to take both effective action against and proactively prevent practices that can lead to trafficking or forced labor for migrant workers.
The Fair Hiring Toolkit provides brands and suppliers with two tools to support the implementation of effective corrective action and systems improvement strategies: first, a guide to corrective action and systems improvement planning; and second, a step-by-step narrative of how to develop strategies for these activities. These tools can be used by multi-stakeholder and multi-brand groups in their own efforts to promote systematic and comprehensive change strategies for brands.

A Guide to Corrective Action and Systems Improvement Planning
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Corrective action strategies and programs need to be comprehensive and systematic, involving shorter and longer term engagement. They should involve the brand, supplier and recruiter concerned, and ensure that the needs and well-being of the trafficked worker(s) are fully and immediately met. This tool provides companies with a broad guide to developing effective remediation strategies. It includes examples of good practice that illustrate its recommendations.

 

Developing a Strategy for Corrective Action and Systems Improvement Planning
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This tool sets out the key steps brands and suppliers should take in developing and implementing a corrective action plan to addresses cases of forced labor discovered in the supply chain. It recommends adopting a clear, step-by-step process involving an analysis of the problem, identification of root causes, brainstorming possible changes and improvements, and developing a plan for implementing those changes.

BRANDS – REPORTING AND TRANSPARENCY

Brands are facing growing expectations from key stakeholders such as governments, investors and consumers to disclose information about their supply chain engagement. In some cases, this pressure is the result of new regulatory requirements, for example in the US State of California (the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act), that oblige brands to describe and demonstrate their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.

To support improvements to corporate reporting, the Fair Hiring Toolkit provides a guide to integrating indicators of forced labor and human trafficking into reporting mechanisms.

Multi-stakeholder and multi-brand initiatives often involve internal or public reporting on compliance against their code of conduct. These initiatives can use the tool provided here to strengthen their own reporting requirements and support brand members to effectively meet the new regulatory and stakeholder expectations on transparency and disclosure on forced labor and human trafficking.

Reporting and Transparency: Integrating Indicators of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking
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Brands are increasingly being asked tough questions about their supply chain engagement. From action with their first tier suppliers through to engagement at the commodity level, a growing number of stakeholders want to know more about what brands are doing to improve labor and human rights conditions in the global economy.
Corporate reporting on forced labor and human trafficking is often characterized as superficial. Many reports are quantitative and provide only a snapshot of a particular incident or action taken, while others are similarly partial, focusing on policy only to the neglect of implementation or performance.
To meet expectations, brands need to strengthen and improve their reporting and increase their transparency on issues like forced labor. This tool helps with this process by providing guidance on what brands can do, and selected examples of recent public disclosure on the topic. It also provides a series of recommendations covering how to report on forced labor, including suggestions on the means of communication, policy development and implementation, awareness raising efforts, assessments and audits, and other items. Finally, the tool introduces recent public policy measures that require brands to disclose information about efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.

BRANDS – MULTI-STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Forced labor and human trafficking are complex problems that brands cannot solve alone. They will need to work with other peer companies and stakeholders to address them effectively and sustainably.

This section of the Fair Hiring Toolkit provides brands with tools to encourage them to adopt partnership and joint-action approaches to tackling supply chain abuses. These tools include a general guide to multi-stakeholder and multi-brand engagement, and a set of two case studies that describe the benefits of this action.

Partnerships can take many forms. Brands can participate in industry-wide, cross-sectoral or multi-stakeholder initiatives; they can seek bilateral agreements with other companies or organizations; and their engagement can be formal, through memberships or affiliations, or more informal, through periodic networking, communications and shared learning. Whatever the approach taken, the tools provided here lay out the key issues and stakeholders to involve.

Encouraging Multi-Stakeholder and Multi-Brand Engagement
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Brands are uniquely positioned to take action against forced labor in their own operations and the supply chain. This action can be unilateral and involve only the company and its various operations; or it can be bilateral or multi-lateral, involving other stakeholders along the way. This tool helps brands with the latter. It makes the case for multi-brand and multi-stakeholder engagement, focusing on its benefits and forms, and providing examples of what some brands are already doing.

 

Case Studies in Multi-Stakeholder and Multi-Brand Engagement
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Case studies are an effective method of raising awareness about specific issues and the action taken by a particular company to address them. The case studies provided in this tool offer concrete examples of good practice in combating forced labor through multi-stakeholder engagement. They cover partnerships to prevent trafficking in the garment industry in India and multi-stakeholder approaches to addressing forced labor in West African cocoa.

BRANDS – PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCACY

Existing gaps in national legislation and global standards, and under-developed public infrastructure and multi-lateral cooperation, make it a challenge for business to address forced labor effectively, promote fair hiring in global supply chains, and establish protective measures for migrant workers with their sphere of influence. To address these challenges, many brands are increasingly engaging in public policy advocacy at the national and international levels.

The Fair Hiring Toolkit supports these efforts. It provides two practical tools to help companies engage policy actors more effectively, making the case for such engagement and providing specific examples of good practice. These tools are further supported by Verité’s Policy Brief on Labor Brokers and Human Rights.

A Guide to Public Policy Advocacy
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Policy advocacy by brands has emerged as a key form of engagement in CSR in recent years. It targets governments at national levels in both sending and receiving countries, and international organizations like the ILO and UN. Such advocacy has many forms and sources. This tool discusses each, and provides a practical overview of what brands can do. It also presents a series of leading examples of recent brand advocacy with the UN and selected national governments.

 

Making the Case for Joint Action in Public Policy
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Brands can often advocate more effectively for public policy dialogue and reform through national or industry-based associations that represent their interests. These organizations, for example, can seek better regulation of the recruitment industry and effective protections for migrant workers by lobbying relevant UN and national government ministries or departments directly. But what does this mean in practice? This tool answers this question, presents an overview of how brands can engage effectively through representative organizations, and outlines a series of practical steps to action.