BSR wins US$400,000 grant from MacArthur foundation to protect global migrant workers

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BSR's Migration Linkages initiative--which works with business, civil society, government, and others to protect the rights of international migrant workers facing basic rights and labor challenges--received US$400,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to expand work in Southeast Asia, the Middle East/Gulf states, and North Africa. This funding continues the MacArthur Foundation’s support of this initiative.

'This support from the MacArthur Foundation comes at a critical time for BSR's work on international labor migration,' said Chad Bolick, Director of Partnership Development at BSR. 'After forging new ground over the past two years, we are now in a strong position to equip companies with the tools necessary to strengthen migrant worker rights protections, and continue to build important dialogues among key stakeholders at the national, regional, and global levels.'

One of the primary challenges in protecting international migrant workers, which number more than 215,000 today, is the lack of transparency in the governance of global migration and the lack of rights protections by and transparency among actors in the private sector. Migration Linkages aims to create an international network of companies, suppliers, international organizations, and civil society groups to develop solutions to these challenges. It will also help business empower workers to make more informed decisions through better worker orientation programs and ethical recruitment practices.

With this grant, BSR will:

  • Produce and disseminate tools that international companies and employers can use to better protect migrant worker rights and address persistent challenges such as poor orientation programs and inadequate grievance mechanisms.
  • Invite the private sector to learn more about and act on this issue by attending company forums, leading research briefs, and joining multi-stakeholder conversations in Southeast Asia and the Gulf/North Africa.
  • Conduct and publish research on ethical recruitment practices.
  • Expand the private sector's role in international dialogues by improving communication channels between the private sector, international organizations, and governments.

BSR launched its work on labor migration with its 2008 report, 'International Labor Migration: A Responsible Role for Business,' which was one of the first resources to target the role of international business in protecting migrant worker rights. This September, BSR will release a toolkit for business on improving orientation programs and grievance mechanisms, and a best practices guide on issues ranging from recruitment and grievance procedures to living conditions and document withholding.

'As MacArthur pursues its goal of improving the lives of migrants through better governance of international migration, business clearly has a role to play,' said John Slocum, Director of MacArthur's Global Migration and Human Mobility grant-making program. 'BSR has been instrumental over the past two years in beginning to define what that role should look like, and the Migration Linkages program is strongly positioned to offer the solutions and partnerships necessary to promote real improvements in the system and ultimately in migrant workers' lives.'

The Migration Linkages program will formally launch in November, and BSR will be reaching out to leading companies to join the initiative later this year. Business leaders interested in joining this effort can email Virginia Terry at vterry@bsr.org. Learn more at www.bsr.org/migration-linkages.

About BSR
A leader in corporate responsibility since 1992, BSR works with its global network of more than 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. With offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR uses its expertise in the environment, human rights, economic development, and governance and accountability to guide global companies toward creating a just and sustainable world. Visit www.bsr.org for more information.

About the MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. More information is at www.macfound.org.

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