GFEMS & Fair Employment Foundation: Expanding models for ethical recruitment
In August 2019, Pinkcollar, Malaysia’s first ethical recruitment agency for domestic workers, opened its doors in Kuala Lumpur. Founded by Zenna Law and Elaine Sim, Pinkcollar aims to disrupt the domestic worker industry and make ethical recruitment the new standard practice in Malaysia. The first of its kind in Malaysia, Pinkcollar follows a growing number of Asia-based firms promoting ethical recruitment.
The Hong Kong-based Fair Employment Foundation (FEF), one of the Fund’s partners on the ground, played a central role in Pinkcollar’s establishment. FEF’s own mission is to build market solutions to end forced labour of migrant workers in Asia. The first of these market-based solutions was Fair Employment Agency (FEA), a non-profit ethical employment agency that ensures workers are never charged recruitment fees. FEA was set up in 2014 and had its first break-even year in 2018. It is now one of the biggest employment agencies in Hong Kong. Pinkcollar co-founders, Elaine Sim and Zenna Law connected by way of FEF in their initial exploration of the ethical recruitment industry before starting the agency in Malaysia together.
Within the GFEMS program, FEF develops, tests and leads market-based solutions to end forced labor of migrant workers across Asia. This program builds opportunities for workers from the Philippines to migrate abroad safely for work, without the burden of recruitment debt, and to be prepared with psychosocial skills for migration. Designed to achieve self-sustainability and rapid scalability, the GFEMS-FEF project has the potential to transform the recruitment industry and protect millions of Filipino workers and their families.
Using models from their own operations and the GFEMS project, FEF helped Pinkcollar to create their ethical recruitment model. FEF opened up their network and shared industry experience with resources and partners to the Malaysian duo. FEA’s standards and operations serve as a strong foundation for Pinkcollar’s service processes and as a benchmark that guides Pinkcollar’s progress.
“FEF has helped us set up a strong end-to-end recruitment pipeline that is ethical and responsible. Pinkcollar launched its services with a tried-and-tested recruitment strategy that we felt confident with, thanks to our mentor, Scott Stiles’ guidance,” Law shares.
Pinkcollar’s replication of the FEF recruitment model demonstrates an appetite for change in standard business practices in the recruitment industry. Further investment in ethical recruitment firms can rapidly scale models like those used by FEF and Pinkcollar and catalyze expansion of their operations, potentially protecting millions of workers across Asia.
Scott Stiles, CEO of FEF, sees this as the way forward:
“Over the last 5 years, Fair [FEF] has built our own revenue generating businesses, which are focused on creating industry leading customer experiences and setting new standards for ethical recruitment. We see supporting emerging ethical players in the recruitment industry as the next step to broadening our impact. This will allow Fair to spread our impact across more industries and markets much more efficiently, and achieve our aim of ending forced labour of migrant workers.”
Ethical recruitment efforts like the GFEMS-FEF project and Pinkcollar represent a significant opportunity to make progress towards sustainably ending modern slavery. To realize this potential, the anti-slavery community must continue to make the business case for investment and escalate funds for innovation in this sector.
GFEMS applauds Pinkcollar’s work and is thrilled that FEF has played such a critical role in their founding.
The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) is a bold international fund catalyzing a coherent global strategy to end human trafficking by making it economically unprofitable. With leadership from government and the private sector around the world, the Fund is escalating resources, designing public-private partnerships, funding new tools and methods for sustainable solutions, and assessing impact to better equip our partners to scale and replicate solutions in new geographies.