The Business Role in Realizing Sustainable Development Goal 10 -
Reduce Inequalities Within and Among Countries
Sustainable Development Goal 10 – “Reduce inequality within and among countries” is an all-encompassing SDG on the matter of inequality. In the era of COVID-19, the jarring differences in opportunity, income, and security are becoming more apparent as the pandemic hits those less fortunate the hardest.
This is where businesses can come into play. Investing in equality within and among countries provide a wealth of returns for corporations and businesses all around. In the context of Malaysia, equality for migrant workers is significant. We have seen how the lack of social protection for migrant workers, in providing them adequate social protection and fair living quarters, has delivered a significant blow to stock prices and stakeholders’ confidence.
GCMYB refers to United Nations Global Compact’s publication Eliminating Recruitment Fees Charged to Migrant Workers” on measures to assess a company’s role, impact assessment and solutions to reducing inequality between countries in the area of labour:
1. Detection and Prevention
The primary step involves recognizing the need for fair treatment for migrant workers in the supply chain. Business partners must be informed of company expectations related to recruitment and hiring, recruitment agencies and migrant workers.
Following that, Promote direct hire of workers across the supply chain to ensure greater transparency and accountability for recruitment, hiring and other human resource functions. Where recruitment agencies are used, engage only those that are reputable, licensed by the competent authority and adhere to the highest ethical standards. Take proactive steps to screen agencies before hiring them and establish procedures for managing and monitoring them afterwards.
2. Compensation and Resolution
In the case where violations do happen, transparent and clear steps to resolution should be provided to the migrant workers themselves. In suspected cases of debt bondage or forced labor, ensure comprehensive corrective action, providing for the full protection of the worker(s) concerned, including measures for their rehabilitation, repatriation (if desired by the worker) and their reintegration into the labor market or community, including cooperation with recognized victim service providers.
Next, engage in dialogue with the business partner associated with the wrong-doing, resolve the problem and work together to identify long-term, sustainable solutions that address root causes of fee-charging. If resolution is not possible, terminating the business relationship, though undesirable, may be considered as the final option.
3. Collective Action, Public Policy and Advocacy
We recommend companies who have adopted a sustainable framework in pushing for equality in the case of migrant workers in the supply chain to involve themselves in dialogue and discussion around the promotion of ethical recruitment.
The firm is recommended to engage in public policy dialogue with Governments and international organizations to promote better regulation of labor migration, employers and private employment agencies, and strengthen legal protections for migrant workers. Prioritize countries of operation where risks of trafficking and forced labor are high, law enforcement weak and where legal and regulatory frameworks may exacerbate the vulnerability of migrants.