Equitable Food Initiative Shares Insights on Improving Recruitment; Kenton Harmer Shares
WASHINGTON, DC - Advancing the industry workforce and ensuring sustainable work for farmworkers is one of the key goals for Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), and the organization is brandishing recently gathered data to uncover new areas of improvement for companies looking to create a better environment for their workers. Recently, EFI released the results of an eight-month-long survey demonstrating the challenges faced by Mexican farmworkers when they are recruited and deployed to work.
“The reality this survey illuminates is that there are still critical but achievable improvements that can be made to have workers arrive ready to work—and return home safely, having met their financial goals,” said Kenton Harmer, Managing Director. “When 49 percent of respondents reported that they felt that they were not free to leave the farm, or 25 percent reported that they had to pay recruitment fees, it shows the importance every grower should place on working with reputable farm labor contractors and adopting a process of responsible recruitment that eliminates illegal and irresponsible recruitment practices and labor conditions.”
The research study was commissioned by EFI and executed by &Wider and CIERTO Global. More than 1,300 interviews were conducted with 650 guest farmworkers who were recruited for work on fresh produce farms in the United States, Canada, and Mexico as part of the study.
The results showcased concerns regarding transparency in contracts, physical safety, isolation, high costs related to travel or recruitment, and threats or abuse from employers, according to a press release, as 70 percent of those surveyed reported that threats of being sent home or not hired again happened frequently.
As illustrated by the study, some of the most important areas of focus for recruitment and human resource managers include:
- Starting with a responsible recruitment process
- Developing a clear and accurate flow of information and expectations for guest workers
- Creating a positive and supportive community for all workers
“The U.S. has nearly 260,000 H-2A guest workers, of which more than 70 percent are engaged in labor in the fresh produce industry,” Harmer added. “With increasing recruitment needs in the face of labor shortages, creating a positive recruitment experience should be a top priority for every company—not just for the bottom line but also for the dignity of every employee.”
Utilizing these findings, EFI has developed the “10 Ways to Improve Recruitment of Guest Workers, According to Farmworkers” report, which can be downloaded online. The complete report from the study is also available online in both English and Spanish.
As more opportunities to bolster the fresh produce workforce are uncovered, keep an eye out for the next update from AndNowUKnow.