Ethical Recruitment

We foster ethical recruitment practices to build safe migration pathways, helping migrants seek safe work and to put exploitative recruiters out of business.

Our Approach

Ethical Recruitment


The global labor recruitment system is broken from start to finish.

One in four victims of forced labor is a migrant, yet global labor recruitment systems are broken and highly exploitative. Even before the moment a worker decides to migrate through their recruitment process, at their destination, and upon their return, the migrant is always in a place of disadvantage or vulnerability. Ethical employers and recruiters struggle to compete with unethical or outright exploitative recruiters who have dominated the market for decades.

GFEMS has equipped over 600 entities to provide more ethical recruitment channels, transforming labor recruitment systems.

We focus on solutions that reduce the vulnerabilities of migrants and survivors, who often make up the labor supply. We make migrant source communities more resilient and shift industry demand towards ethical recruitment practices. 

On the supply side, we prepare and equip migrants to migrate safely and hold their recruiters to account, train migrant workers for safer jobs and alternative livelihoods, and provide access to financial health services that reduce economic vulnerability. We work with communities to help them identify suspicious recruiter behavior and create community-based support services for migrants. We also support holistic reintegration services for returning victims. 

On the demand side, we support the ethical recruitment movement by establishing and accelerating the growth of ethical recruitment firms, engaging with employers to adopt ethical recruitment agencies, and creating tools that improve the cost-effectiveness of ethical recruitment.

Hong Kong, Philippines

Partner Spotlight: Fair Employment Foundation

Project: The Fair Recruitment Model: An End-to-End Market Solution to Make Exploitative Recruitment Unprofitable

Debt bondage – often the result of exploitative fees- is one of the most prevalent forms of forced labor. It is common in the domestic service industry where 80% of the workforce are women. With a focus on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Hong Kong (where one in eight households employs a migrant domestic worker), Fair Employment Foundation implemented programming to make migration safer from end to end. They opened a training center in Manila, Philippines, to better prepare OFWs for work and life overseas and scaled investment in safe placement in Hong Kong. This partnership has enabled 2,500 Filipino domestic workers to migrate safely to Hong Kong, collectively, avoiding $3.75 million in recruitment debt.

Ethical Recruitment can be transformative in the fight against modern slavery

Across industries– apparel, domestic work, hospitality, construction, and more, millions of workers use recruiters to gain employment domestically and overseas. The recruitment industry, however, is often an enabler of exploitation and slavery. Ranging from large professional recruitment agencies to informal brokers and personal networks, recruiters often deceive migrant workers into taking misadvertised jobs, charge exorbitant recruitment fees, place workers with unsafe employers, and take a cut of workers’ wages. 

Due to the high degree of interconnectedness between recruitment and sectors with a high prevalence of modern slavery, creating a global system of ethical recruitment has the potential to drastically reduce modern slavery globally. 

Global labor recruitment pathways

Key labor recruitment pathways show important patterns in migrant origin and destination locations, primarily within and across Asia and the Gulf States. While ethical recruitment initiatives are growing steadily in origin countries, they have less momentum in destination countries.

GFEMS currently funds projects on overseas labor recruitment and ethical recruitment in every geography we operate in.

Our Work

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