IOM Finland Chief of Mission Simo Kohonen and H&M Group Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda sign an MoU to Promote the Ethical Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Workers | Photo: IOM
IOM Finland Chief of Mission Simo Kohonen and H&M Group Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda sign an MoU to Promote the Ethical Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Workers | Photo: IOM

The H&M Group, known in many parts of the world for its fast-fashion clothing, has pledged to promote the ethical recruitment and protection of migrant workers in global supply chains. The multinational company last week signed a memorandum of understanding with UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and H&M Group, a Swedish multimational clothing-retail company, on December 9 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation and mutual assistance in relation to the ethical recruitment and protection of migrant workers in global supply chains.

The protocol was signed by the Head of IOM's office in Finland Simo Kohonen and H&M Group's Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda. According to its own information, H&M operates in over 70 markets with more than 4,900 stores. 

Unethical practices pose risk for migrants

In an online statement, H&M called "unethical recruitment practices and gaps in the governance of labor migration" the "leading risks" migrant workers face in the global economy.

"Fee-charging to workers, fraud during the hiring process, the confiscation of personal documents" were "all-too-common abuses" migrants experience during the hiring process.
"There is no better time than now to address these challenges," the statement read further. IOM stressed that Sustainable Development Goal 10 - "Reduce inequality within and among countries" - "highlights safe migration and migrant workers as priorities."

IOM and H&M Group are "committed to contribute to its realization," the UN agency said in the statement.

Protecting migrant workers

IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson said H&M Group, which recently launched its own "fair recruitment and treatment guidelines," showed "true commitment and leadership in the fashion industry. We look forward to bringing our mutual strengths to tackle the complex challenges facing migrant workers in supply chains."

IOM has a number of initiatives to protect the rights of migrant workers. The International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), for one, promotes "ethical international recruitment." Another example is the Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) program that works with companies to "tackle the vulnerabilities of migrant workers in supply chains."

Anna Gedda, aforementioned sustainability chief at H&M, said she expects the partnership with IOM to help "ensure fair working conditions for migrant workers in our supply chain." She also noted that H&M was seeing a "need to collectively advocate for improved legislation and cross-border regulations."
 

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