Corporations and governments throughout the world are working together to protect migrant workers. On December 9th, the Swedish clothing corporation, H&M Group, renewed its interest in this area by pledging to promote the ethical recruitment and protection of migrant workers in global supply chains. The pledge was memorialized through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations agency International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Numerous corporations have renewed their efforts to support the rights of migrant workers. Many corporations make such pledges internally or with their customers, but it’s refreshing to see such a commitment as the H&M company has made with an inter-governmental agency, reflected New York based immigration attorney Jon Purizhansky.
The H&M Group has a particular interest in around workers’ rights. They are a multinational clothing-retail company that operates in 62 countries with over 4,500 stores and employs over 132,000 people. It is one of the largest global clothing retailers having an online presence in over thirty countries.
H&M’s Head of Sustainability, Anna Gedda, executed the MOU on behalf of the company. The company stated that “unethical recruitment practices and gaps in the governance of labor migration” are among the leading risks impacting global migrant workers in todays economy.
Migrant workers are routinely taken advantage of, there are unethical fees charged to workers, rampant fraud during the recruitment and on-boarding process, and seizure of personal documents, says Jon Purizhansky. These have been issues for many years, and while governments have tried to remedy these practices they still exist today. Having major corporations getting involved in this area draws attention to a global issue and which can ultimately bring change.
IOM is a major United Nations initiative drawing attention to this issue. They are the leading international organization for migration and routinely work with the international community to address challenges in migration management. IOM also promotes and advances the understanding of migration issues and supports economic and community development through migration. One of their critical value statements is to uphold the dignity and well-being of migrants and their families.
IOM is the global leader in this space, reflects Jon Purizhansky. The organization was founded in 1951 and is supported by 173 member states. Being an arm of the United Nations provides the resources and awareness of migration matters on a wide-global scale and the tools to drive change.
Another benefit of H&M’s very public pledge is that it will encourage other social groups and corporations to adopt similar positions to drive continued awareness to a global issue.