Businesses Target Human Trafficking

By Dori Meinert Dec 1, 2012
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1212cover.gifNine global businesses are partnering to fight human trafficking, pledging to share their resources, expertise and influence to help combat the growing problem that has been described as modern-day slavery.

The newly formed Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking includes Carlson, The Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines, Exxon Mobil, LexisNexis, ManpowerGroup, Microsoft, NXP and Travelport. They're encouraging others to join them.

The coalition will focus on eliminating forced labor that may be present in corporate supply chains, as well as sex trafficking that relies on facilities in the travel and tourism industries.

"Fully engaging the corporate community is a critical step in the war to end modern-day slavery," says David Arkless, ManpowerGroup's president of global corporate and government affairs and the coalition's co-chair. "Corporations need to take action, get involved and become part of the solution."

Almost 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor, according to an estimate released by the International Labour Organization earlier this year. About 5.5 million, or 26 percent, are younger than 18.

The coalition plans to develop and share best practices for business leaders to use to prevent human trafficking within their organizations. The coalition members plan to develop training modules for employees and to raise awareness among consumers, suppliers and partners. They will work with governments, private organizations and others.

ManpowerGroup was the first company to sign the Athens Ethical Principles, a voluntary accord that declares a zero-tolerance policy for working with any entity that benefits from human trafficking. Since then, more than 12,000 organizations have signed up directly or through industry groups.

For more information on what businesses are doing to fight human trafficking, see "Modern-Day Slavery" in the May 2012 issue of HR Magazine.

Gender Bias Revealed In Staffing Companies

Staffing companies tend to recommend candidates to their clients based on gender stereotypes, eliminating many women from the running before they get to the interview stage, according to a study by researchers at London Business School and Henley Business School at the University of Reading.

"When staffing firms are involved in a hiring process, women are more likely to be shortlisted for lower-paid projects and less likely to be shortlisted for higher-paid projects," says Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, associate professor at London Business School.

Once they make the staffing agency cut, however, women and men have the same chance of getting hired for higher-paying jobs, she says.

The researchers studied nine years' worth of hiring data for temporary positions involving 23,355 job candidates vying for 6,705 jobs for 2,331 clients. The researchers had special access to pre-hire data on the pool of candidates competing for each position. Typically, researchers use post-hire data to make inferences about how women end up in certain jobs.

By focusing on temporary positions, the researchers removed one commonly cited reason for lower numbers of women in high-level jobs: They are expected to leave their jobs more often than men.

In what the researchers refer to as "anticipatory gender sorting," they found that staffing agency representatives assume that clients will prefer men for high-paying jobs. The representatives' desire to please the client "becomes an incentive to minimize risk," they wrote. Stereotyping becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In highly specialized jobs when there are fewer job candidates available, the research suggests that the screeners tend toward the "safest" candidates, usually men.

HR professionals interested in maximizing diversity "need to monitor the hiring process from the very beginning. They cannot look just at the people they hire but at everyone in the pipeline," says Fernandez-Mateo. "Be aware that by outsourcing this process, you might be introducing some bias."

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