The Walmart Foundation has awarded $1m in the form of a grant to the Responsible Business Alliance Foundation (RBA) to help create a marketplace for ethical recruitment of migrant labour in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

The RBA will be working with supporting program partners ELEVATE to try to end routine exploitation in foreign migrant worker employment and recruitment in the regions’ supply chains.

The RBA Foundation aims to empower workers and transform the recruitment market by enabling ethical business practices. Working alongside ELEVATE over a two-year period, the RBA will implement a solutions-oriented program involving making education and resources available to vulnerable workers as well as educating and encouraging factory managers and labour agents to meet ethical recruitment standards.

Malaysia is seen as a prominent manufacturing hub for the global supply chains of several industries. Migrant workers make up a substantial portion of the workforce and are generally managed by local recruitment agencies lacking the training and capability to protect them from exploitation. The nature of this can range from unfair pay and poor working conditions to virtual slavery.

“The work of the Responsible Business Alliance Foundation to make a positive, lasting impact in the labour market in Malaysia supports our overarching goal of advancing dignity in work across global supply chains,” said Walmart Foundation’s Senior Director Karrie Denniston. “We anticipate what the RBA Foundation learns in making responsible recruitment a sustainable and scalable norm in Malaysia will be transferable to other countries and regions that rely on foreign migrant workers.”

The RBA works to encourage responsible sourcing practices in international electronics supply chains. Formerly known as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), the foundation aims to develop social accountability through education, training and resources, alongside the provision of its own social audit standard.

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