Sustainable sourcing, ethical recruitment keys to industry growth: Experts

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-09-02 00:43:50 BdST

Labour-intensive business models inadvertently expose companies and workers to risks due to limited transparency in recruitment, employment and working conditions, as well as migration processes, experts say.

At a discussion on Sunday in Dhaka, they also observed that a lack of awareness about labour standards and ethical recruitment practices are among the factors that “exacerbate” the vulnerabilities of migrant workers.

Sustainable sourcing, ethical labour, and recruitment practices are the keys to addressing the issues. It is also imperative to industry growth in Bangladesh.

Those messages were conveyed by the experts from government, the business community, civil society and development partners at an event titled “Uplifting the Competitiveness of Bangladesh through Ethical Labour Practices in Supply Chains”.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Business Forum Bangladesh (IBFB) organised jointly the event.

This was to provide relevant stakeholders with insights on “Bangladesh’s migration and labour nexus as well as highlighting the country priorities and create awareness and dialogues between institutions on sustainable sourcing and ethical recruitment”.

“Bangladesh has a significant market opportunity for businesses to secure their connection to a global market where the legalization of corporate responsibility, including ethical recruitment, is increasingly becoming a reality,” IOM Bangladesh Deputy Chief of Mission Sharon Dimance said.

“If Bangladesh ensures sustainable sourcing and ethical recruitment, it will increase the country’s competitiveness.”

Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said migration is a “critical nexus” in Bangladesh.

“We have a lot of challenges. Unethical labour practice is one of them. However, we have a legal framework and so ethical issues have been maintained. Bangladesh has adopted a very inclusive macroeconomic policy which helps us to address the issue of unethical labour practice,” he said.

President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Rubana Huq said labour is a “very sensitive” issue.

“That’s why we need to take this issue as an utmost priority. Yes, we have some problems in our sector. But the quality and quantity are very low. However, we have the scope to develop our sector. If we want to develop our sector, we need to have a collective initiative.

“We need to be strategic. We want to do what is best for our labours. We need to make a bridge among the stakeholders. And, we need to engage ourselves to bring positive changes.”

Humayan Rashid, President of International Business Forum Bangladesh (IBFB), said, “We want to promote ethical labour practices. It will help us to build a better business environment. This will include improving well-being and opportunities for Bangladeshi workers.”

The concept note of the event shows in Bangladesh, employment opportunities, climate change, natural disasters, and marriage are key triggers for migration movements from the rural to the urban sector and cross border migration.

Dhaka and Chittagong are the destinations of 80 percent of the country’s internal migrants.

This is the internal migration landscape that allows Bangladesh -- the world’s third-largest exporter of clothing, Asia’s third in commercial services and recently an important player in the export of agricultural goods -- to continue thriving economically.

Additionally, more than 730,000 workers have also migrated internationally in 2018. In short, the migration nexus of Bangladesh is unique.

However, workers are at risks due to lack of awareness and limited capacity to implement appropriate corporate policies and management systems also contribute to vulnerabilities of workers.