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ManpowerGroup and Verite Release Ethical Framework to Combat Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

ManpowerGroup and Verite Release Ethical Framework to Combat Human Trafficking and Forced Labor in Cross-Border Recruitment

Risk of Abusive Labor Practices Grows as Worker Migration Increases

ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN), the world leader in innovative workforce solutions, and Verite, the award-winning human rights and labor rights NGO, released a detailed framework for combatting human trafficking and forced labor at a conference titled "Engaging Business: Addressing Human Trafficking in Labor Sourcing" in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 214 million people across the globe live outside their countries of origin, and migrant workers and their families account for 90 percent of all international migration. Such movement of workers has become increasingly important to the prosperity of the global economy, and to the livelihood of individual workers seeking opportunity. Unfortunately, as more individuals move for work, and more employers seek global talent, many migrants find themselves entangled in a "grey" market run by unscrupulous brokers and employers. As a result, they can face abusive conditions that amount to modern-day slavery.

"Today's environment requires businesses to be global and talent to be mobile, therefore ManpowerGroup has made it a priority to be at the forefront of ensuring that global recruitment markets operate transparently and ethically," said David Arkless, ManpowerGroup President of Global Corporate and Government Affairs.  "Leading firms already commit to high ethical standards, but too many other operators exploit workers through recruitment debt, fraudulent contract substitution, and other forms of abuse.  And even well-intentioned businesses face reputational risk from unwittingly becoming entangled with unethical partners."

ManpowerGroup and Verite's Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Labor Recruitment offers a checklist of specific "Standards of Ethical Practice" for firms involved in cross-border recruitment of workers, which are designed to protect those workers against specific patterns of vulnerability and abuse.  These standards are to be backed up by a verification system that certifies business compliance and provides key information for leveraging the influence of consumer groups, regulators, and other third parties.

"Labor migrants can face horrible conditions, including modern-day slavery.  Through the framework that we developed with ManpowerGroup, we are committed to using standards and credentialing systems to provide a market for ethical recruiters — as they should be the ones who supply workers to the factories and farms that supply consumers, rather than the unethical firms that currently play too big a role," said Dan Viederman, Chief Executive Officer of Verite.  "The current cross-border recruitment marketplace has almost no transparency and limited ability to enforce standards. Our Framework makes it easy for ethical businesses to understand what they need to do, and easy for them to point to like-minded firms who they want to work with. The ultimate goal is for ethical behavior to be rewarded."

The Framework is the first phase of a three-phase collaboration for ManpowerGroup and Verite.  In the second phase, ManpowerGroup and Verite will lead a demonstration project in a real-world labor market setting to test the effectiveness of the Framework.  In the third phase, ManpowerGroup and Verite will develop and disseminate results and recommendations for wider replication of the Framework.

"Our ultimate goal is a safe, effective, and transparent system for cross-border labor recruitment, where workers have maximum information to help them pursue opportunities, confidence in the enforceability of contracts, and effective protection against labor abuses and where employers have access, on fair terms, to a global labor supply to sustain economic growth," added Arkless.

"This project is a model of collaboration between business and civil society. Companies and NGOs can achieve much more together than they can separately, provided they remain focused on demonstrating impact," said Viederman. "We are actively seeking dialogue with partners, stakeholders, and other interested parties as we build our demonstration project."

The Atlanta conference, sponsored by the United States Council for International Business, the International Organization of Employers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and hosted by The Coca-Cola Company and Lexis-Nexis, assembled global business and human rights leaders to develop networks, strategies, tactics, and tools to address human trafficking in sourcing people for work.


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