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The Four Ethical Challenges in Technical Recruitment

With geographical market expansion and demanding consumers placing increasing strain on growing businesses, how can we ensure we recruit ethically for technical roles?


Here are the top four ethical problems in technical hiring and how to address them.


4. How to Conduct Fair Recruitment Practices Under Time and Cost Pressures

We know that major projects often require the urgent recruitment of skilled workers: sometimes a business will need to find and onboard hundreds of candidates within only a few weeks. Deadlines leave HR departments with little time to find quality staffing agencies, let alone conduct detailed assessments on their labour standards. Cost restrictions place further pressure on businesses trying to provide fair labour and ethical processes – often the recruitment providers with the worst track record on ethics offer the most affordable services.


Business leaders wanting to improve labour and hiring standards can make a positive start by proactively creating a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy. Outline what ethical standards look like in your business will help guide your HR and Procurement teams when enlisting and assessing a new recruitment agency. Analysing and communicating the ROI of your ethical recruitment practices will evidence the importance of fair labour to your internal and external stakeholders, and encourage a best practice of long-term thinking that benefits workers and the business.


3. How to Find Recruitment Companies with Ethical Practices

Despite living in an all-connected world where the Internet creates more global transparency than ever before, identifying a recruitment company with ethical practices can prove more difficult than it initially appears. Staffing agencies may claim to adhere to legal requirements and practice fair labour standards, and all may appear on the surface, but often what is promised to the client and what actually happens to the worker are very different.


Ethical recruitment agencies match the following criteria:

  • Industry Reputation – Credible staffing agencies will have earned a positive reputation in their sector. Their previous customers will recommend their services and they will have many positive referrals (such as official testimonials, branded case studies and direct contact information for previous clients) to offer proof of their high recruitment standards.

  • Transparency – Agencies practicing fair labour will be fully licensed and comply with all legislation and industry requirements. They will also be able to prove this, and happy to show you evidence when asked – beware of recruitment companies who take offence to questions around their ethical practices.

  • No Fees for Candidates – Many disreputable agencies around the world transfer recruitment costs onto candidates. Whilst low-cost or free recruitment services are initially appealing for businesses, charging fees to candidates is often devastating for them and their families, and could result in significant brand damage for businesses found to be using this approach.

Find out more about How to Identify Ethical Recruitment Agencies.


2. How to Ensure Ethical Practices Throughout Your Whole Supply Chain

Although your business may have high recruiting standards, unfair labour practices in your recruitment partner or anywhere in your supply chain can negatively affect large sections of your workforce. How can you prevent unethical practices in your supplier companies?


When searching for a new supplier, ask for referrals from people in your network whose experience you trust, research the supplier’s reputation online and seek out reviews from customer and employees on independent review websites such as TrustPilot and Glassdoor.


Create a list of questions to ask any new suppliers you are considering. Ask them how their processes incorporate the Dhaka Principles (a set of human rights-based guidelines to protect migrant workers from mistreatment) and check their current practices around fees, worker welfare and modern slavery prevention.


1. Maintaining Ethical Standards After the Recruitment Process

Whilst your recruitment agency is the key communication point for your workers, maintaining a level of direct contact with your workers is the best way to receive honest and specific feedback about their working experiences.


Create regular, anonymous surveys to your workforce (reassuring them of their privacy and that they will not be punished for negative responses) and ask them to answer questions on the conduct of your recruitment agency. Does their current salary or day rate match the pay that your recruitment agency promised them? Do all workers still have their passport in their possession? Have they experienced or witnessed ill treatment or discrimination at any point in the recruitment process or in their current jobs?


Verbatim feedback directly from anyone experiencing unethical practices is the best way to hold your recruitment agencies to account and protect your workforce.


Find out how the Fair Labour Alliance can help your business benefit from ethical recruitment practices.