New cross-industry initiatives to watch
Launched in June 2017, the Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI) is a multi-industry, multi-stakeholder collaboration stemming out of the forced labor commitments and programs of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC).
The RLI aims to bring together multiple sectors to harness members’ collective influence in its efforts to ensure the rights and dignity of workers vulnerable to forced labor in global supply chains are consistently respected and promoted.
As a member of the RLI’s multi-stakeholder Advisory Board, David Schilling of ICCR says, “The RLI is smartly building on a set of tools that the RBA has developed over time, retooling them to deal with forced labor and recruitment issues in a way that creates a path for recruitment agencies to become recognized as ethical recruiters.”
The RLI utilizes a Labor Migration Corridor Database developed with Verité to facilitate honest conversations with suppliers around the true costs of responsible recruitment practices. It is led by a multi-industry Steering Committee that includes representatives from the electronics, construction, food and beverage, and retail sectors.
In early 2018, the initiative launched its Responsible Workplace and Responsible Recruitment Programs with supporting partner ELEVATE. The Responsible Workplace Program focuses on worker engagement through mobile survey technology, a third-party helpline, and trainings on workers’ rights, pre-departure orientation, and worker-management communication. The Responsible Recruitment Program directly involves labor agents in self-assessments, forced labor audits, and ethical recruitment trainings. It will then provide a public list of each participant’s progression in the program toward certification.
RBA Vice President Bob Mitchell explains, “Forced labor due diligence must be harmonized across industries to ensure that workers vulnerable to forced labor are respected and protected. The RLI has a set of advanced tools and programs that are complementary to other initiatives in this area and that are facilitating transparency, assessment, mitigation and remediation. We’re aiming to create a market for ethical recruitment and employment. The more sectors and stakeholders that are involved, the better.”