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September 24, 2017
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Five corporations pledge to change their supplier codes of conduct to fight forced labor in their supply chains

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Ford, GM, Hormel, Marriott, and Michael Kors have all committed to prohibiting suppliers from using unethical labor brokers.

Five major corporations—Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Hormel Foods, Marriott International, and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.—have committed to changing their supplier codes of conduct to require suppliers to use "no fees" recruitment policies.

By pledging to add these provisions, the companies are trying to stop the use of unethical labor brokers, who charge cross-border job seekers high fees and ask them to surrender travel documents in return for finding them a job. Many see this practice as a form of forced labor or modern-day slavery.

The five companies represent several of the industry sectors considered at high risk for unethical recruitment practices, including automotive (Ford and GM), food/agriculture (Hormel), hospitality (Marriott), and apparel (Michael Kors).

The commitments came about as a result of an initiative by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of investors. The organization's "No Fees" initiative encourages companies to adopt policies that stipulate that employees should never pay recruitment fees for jobs, and that they should always have a clearly written contract.

"Brands are waking up to the fact that controlling labor recruitment at all levels of the supply chain is a corporate responsibility," said Valentina Gurney, who leads the "No Fees" initiative for ICCR, in a statement. "With these new commitments, we see real momentum building, and we congratulate these five companies for stepping out on this important issue."

To help other companies that may be interested in implementing ethical recruitment policies, ICCR published Best Practice Guidance on Ethical Recruitment of Migrant Workers in May.

The group also recommends that companies consider joining other initiatives, such as:

ICCR has 300 member organizations comprising faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, nongovernmental organizations, and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over US$200 billion.

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