Equitable Food Initiative Relaunches Online Responsible Recruitment Scorecard
WASHINGTON, DC - The right tools in hand can make all of the difference when it comes to producing lasting change. In support of the fresh produce industry’s commitment to the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) has relaunched its online Responsible Recruitment Scorecards to meet the growing demand from retailers requesting grower-shippers to demonstrate their commitment to keeping forced labor out of their workforce.
“Responsible recruitment matters to producers not just because bad practices expose them and their customers to severe commercial risks, but also because ethical recruitment results in better alignment of organizational and worker interests, improving food safety, productivity, and quality,” explained Kenton Harmer, Managing Director of EFI.
The new version of the Responsible Recruitment Scorecard is interactive and offers growers a digital assessment to help identify risk factors in the recruitment process. It also presents recommended action steps that can be carried out, according to a press release.
Available in both English and Spanish on EFI’s website, the Responsible Recruitment Scorecard is free and offers growers two versions of a detailed questionnaire. The first helps identify risks that are associated with foreign recruitment of workers and the other helps determine risks related to working with farm labor contractors.
“The responsible recruitment of workers is an important and complicated issue that isn’t expected to be addressed quickly or easily,” said Keith Neal, Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of Fresh Produce for Costco Wholesale. “We are interested in doing business with suppliers who are learning to understand the complexity of the issue, and to elevate responsible recruitment practices. Using EFI’s Responsible Recruitment Scorecard is one definitive way to begin the process.”
After the confidential questionnaire is completed, the scorecard is able to calculate key areas that growers can address to improve their recruitment process. The system is also able to provide directional guidance on steps that can be taken in the future.
While the self-assessment helps identify invisible risks, results can be used to determine which farm labor contractors and recruiters are most in line with the ethos of a business and which potential partnerships would further reduce vulnerabilities around forced labor.
“After using the previous version and having a test drive of the new version, I found the EFI Responsible Recruitment Scorecard to be a user-friendly online tool that will help growers or labor providers ask the right questions and implement practical steps to improve their labor supply chain,” shared Matt Rogers, General Manager of AgSocio. “I especially like how the scorecard lists relevant documents to create or check for and categorizes topics into high, moderate, and low risk. The recommended actions at the end are a helpful summary to plan your next steps.”
Data from the Polaris Project suggests that 41 percent of human trafficking reports from workers with temporary work visas come from H-2A workers in agriculture, and of those, the majority are in the fresh produce industry.
In addition, the majority of cases also involve payment of recruitment fees. The produce industry created the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices in 2018 to increase social responsibility and provide farmworkers with equal dignity and respect.
As companies like EFI continue to address this growing industry challenge, AndNowUKnow will keep you up-to-date.