What Does an Ethical Recruitment Agency Look Like?

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

In 2017, 164 million individuals migrated around the world in pursuit of work opportunities.[1] This number continues to grow annually, which makes it essential for every company using migrant labour to adopt ethical recruitment practices. To better understand what ethical recruitment look like, we worked with two members of the FLA, Alison Marston from FSI Worldwide and Adrian Mansfield from V-HR, to develop a list of characteristics that are essential for ethical recruitment agencies.


1. An ethical recruitment agency is transparent. Transparency is key to creating accountability, and ethical companies do not try to hide. Ethical companies are willing to share information, such as copies of previous contracts and licenses, as well as be upfront about the costs of their services, with clients. They also have a written code of conduct that mentions the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity and ensure that it is adhered to.


2. An ethical recruitment agency is reputable. What do others have to say about the company? Ask the company to share client testimonials with you and connect with other companies with recruitment needs similar to yours to see if they have had any experiences with the recruitment agency. Additionally, check what workers have to say about the agency on RecruitmentAdvisor.org. Launched in 2018, RecruitmentAdvisor.org is a new online platform that allows workers to anonymously report on their experiences with recruitment agencies.


3. An ethical recruitment agency is professional. Companies should be sceptical of agencies that do not meet certain standards of professionalism. For example, does the agency use email accounts containing the domain name of the agency? Often truly professional agencies do not use non-branded domains, such as @gmail.com or @hotmail.com. Additionally, check to see if the domain name used in the email address also matches their website domain name. If they do not match, it is possible that the domain name used in the email address is being used to falsely pose a relationship with the agency represented on the website.


4. An ethical recruitment agency does not charge workers fees. This principle is paramount. Because fees are often unreasonably excessive, ethical companies know that it is not good practice, and in some cases even illegal, to charge workers recruitment fees. Such fees should always be borne by the company seeking to hire workers. While cost cutting through passing costs onto workings can be enticing, ethical recruitment companies know that this ultimately does not serve the hiring companies’ long-term interests.


Ethical recruitment is an essential part of fair labour. As such, hiring companies striving to incorporate principles of fair labour into their business should ensure that the recruitment agencies they use are ethical in their own practices. The Fair Labour Alliance exists to connect companies who are in the process of implementing more efficient and ethical labour supply chains with one another and to foster a community for shared learning.



Read more about the Business Case for Ethical Recruitment.

Find out more about the mission of the Fair Labour Alliance.

[1] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/labour-migration/lang--en/index.htm

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