Q&A with Bob Mitchell: HP’s Supply Chain Foreign Migrant Worker Standard

Q&A with Bob Mitchell: HP’s Supply Chain Foreign Migrant Worker Standard

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.@HPLivingProg becomes the 1st #IT company to require direct employment for foreign migrant workers http://3bl.me/wy8t38 #LivingProgress
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 10:00am


Having one of the industry’s most extensive supply chains, HP is committed to ensuring fair, safe and voluntary work for every worker in our supply chain.  While HP’s Supplier Code of Conduct contains our expectations for the proper treatment of all workers, we also recognize that individual worker groups, including foreign migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable and require additional protection.  That’s why we’ve enhanced our comprehensive Supply Chain Responsibility program, with advanced supplier directives for the management of foreign migrant workers who often face unique risks related to exploitation and the potential for forced labor.

The HP Next Team sat down with Bob Mitchell, global manager of supply chain responsibility at HP, to ask him about our newly issued guidelines and measurement processes for all of our suppliers, in an effort to proactively combat the vulnerabilities faced by foreign migrant workers.

Q. What is a foreign migrant worker and why is HP implementing the Supply Chain Foreign Migrant Worker Standard?

A. A foreign migrant worker is an individual who migrates from his or her home country to another country for employment. At HP, we believe that all workers - regardless of origin - should be treated with dignity and respect.  We recognize that foreign migrant workers have unique vulnerabilities, and as a result we have developed HP’s Supply Chain Foreign Migrant Worker Standard to help us better protect these workers in our supply chain.

Q. Did HP recently begin addressing foreign migrant labor in its supply chain?

A. No - the standard builds on existing efforts to educate suppliers on best practices and is a part of HP’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which already expressly forbids any forced, bonded, indentured, involuntary prison labor, slavery or trafficking of persons.

HP has been active in addressing the risks faced by foreign migrant workers since 2009 when we partnered with other leading IT and retail brands in the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) International Labor Migration (ILM) focus group.  The group worked with key stakeholders to develop a Migrant Worker Management Toolkit and Good Practice Guide,which were publically released in 2010.  HP has continued to partner with others in the IT industry in 2014 to conduct labor agent training in Malaysia focusing on the responsible recruitment of foreign migrant workers.

Q. Why has HP decided to issue these guidelines now?

A. As some recent reports have highlighted, foreign migrant workers continue to be at risk for rights violations through their recruitment and during their employment.  In particular, the recruitment and employment practices of suppliers and labor agents puts foreign migrant workers at risk for forced labor.  Given the variation in practices by suppliers and labor agents in managing these workers, HP recognizes our responsibility to clarify our standards and drive their enforcement with our suppliers globally.

Q. What are the key components of the Supply Chain Foreign Migrant Worker Standard?

A. HP’s extensive guidelines focus on the following:

  • Foreign migrant workers must be directly employed and paid by the supplier
  • Foreign migrant workers shall not pay for their employment, including recruitment fees and costs.
  • Foreign migrant workers will always retain possession of their passports and other official documentation.

To ensure implementation of this standard, HP will complement our existing Supply Chain Responsibility program with specialized forced labor audits and regular monitoring.  Suppliers that do not meet the standard will be required to correct their practices with urgency and may be subject to internal HP escalations, remediation programs and risk discontinuation of business with HP.

Q. Why doesn’t HP prohibit the use of foreign migrant workers in its supply chain?

A. HP recognizes that overseas jobs represent opportunities for foreign migrant workers to support themselves and their families that may not be available in their home countries.  We don’t want to eliminate the use of foreign migrant workers in our supply chain but we want to afford them greater protections in the process of securing and working such jobs.