Organisations with large supply chains can inadvertently fall victim to negligence, or worse, modern slavery, in the more distant tiers of their business operations. A lack of oversight and/or control over recruitment practices further down the supply chain can blight the business as a whole.
Take one example – Volvo were recently blamed for using a vehicle valet service whose owner was alleged to employ workers below minimum wage and kept in filthy living conditions. The Rana Plaza disaster was another tragic reminder that sometimes brands aren’t even aware where their products are being made, let alone monitor them:
“Some of these big global supply chains have tens of thousands of suppliers and they can’t police everyone every day of the week… And the demand for speed, at a low overhead, often outranks the demand for human rights.” [source: FashionBeans]
Despite efforts to provide a fair and diverse workplace at the head of the organisation, labour providers and agencies are often trusted to adopt the same ethos in their role of sourcing workers at the ‘coalface’.
Understandably, labour providers and agencies are often used:
- To provide flexibility to cover short term production demands and seasonal peaks
- To cover local labour shortages
- To enable temp to perm recruitment methods
- To source a hardworking, reliable and cost effective labour supply
Leaving these workforce planning decisions almost solely to your suppliers will shape your office, factory, farm or workplace. Can you say for sure whether it is for the better or worse? Amidst countless examples of labour providers and suppliers indirectly blocking British workers, relying on word of mouth to recruit, holding stereotypical views about some nationalities, and generally maintaining a veil over their operations, is it any wonder that scandals and disasters are still happening in 2016?
Can you say for sure that your business is inherently non-discriminatory and treats its workers fairly?
When dealing with any sort of labour supplier, we encourage you to cover as many bases as possible along these lines:
- Having a robust Service Level Agreement
- Implementing policies and procedures
- Measuring and auditing thoroughly
- Continually reviewing
RTW provide an anonymous worker voice assessment that highlights urgent risks within your supply chain. If you are looking to monitor and audit yourself, questions you might ask include:
- Are records kept that will justify each selection decision from short-listing to appointment i.e. objective evidence of the candidate’s ability to do the job?
- Do all applicants for jobs apply on well drafted, standard application forms?
- Is special care taken to make sure candidates whose first language is not English understand the test instructions?
- Do the recruiters understand the work environment and job?
The aim of a bulletproof recruitment strategy at all tiers of the business is to be able to demonstrate ethical practices throughout - a requirement of the new Modern Slavery Act. Putting measures and reviews in place can ensure that no worker feels harassed, discriminated against, bullied or coerced.
A responsible business begins with the way people are recruited wherever they are in the supply chain. With tools like RTW available, there is every opportunity now to achieve ethical standards.