By Brian Collett — Four large companies have signed up to the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, an international business alliance campaigning to eliminate fees imposed on applicants when they take jobs.
The group, which sees the charging of employees as a main cause of forced labour, has been joined by the US food group Mars, the UK supermarket chain Tesco, the French construction company Vinci, and the international conglomerate GE headquartered in Massachusetts.
The member companies, which promote the Employer Pays Principle initiated by the group, want bold collective action to eradicate the fees within 10 years. They believe the money demanded, particularly from migrant workers, leads to forced labour, debt cycles and exploitation.
Alex Dimitrief, GE’s senior vice-president and general counsel, said: “Forced labour is a challenging and complicated problem that must be tackled with urgency through the joint efforts of governments, corporations and civil society around the world.
“GE is proud to join this select group of companies looking for real and practical solutions to one of the core causes of this problem – unethical recruitment.”
Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and health and wellbeing officer at Mars, said: “We believe everyone touched by our business should be treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
“We’re here to learn with other leaders who are ready to move from conversation to collective action on responsible recruitment practices that will make a meaningful difference for vulnerable workers around the world.”
Franck Mougin, Vinci’s executive vice-president for human resources and sustainable development, insisted: “Our business sector must get involved on these vital issues.
“Working collectively and sharing best practices and tools is the best way to promote the Employer Pays Principle across the industry.”
The new members of the group were announced in Berlin at the Annual Leadership Forum for Responsible Recruitment, which was sponsored by the group, the related Institute for Human Rights and Business, both London-based, and Humanity United, a US foundation that seeks new approaches to global problems.
The group’s other members are Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard and its innovative arm Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ikea, Marks & Spencer, Unilever and Walmart.