Adidas, IOM Partner to Promote Responsible Recruitment, Fair Treatment of Migrant Workers in Garment and Footwear Industry

IOM is working with adidas to protect the rights of migrant workers. Photo: adidas

Ho Chi Minh City – Global sportswear company adidas and IOM have launched a new project to eliminate unethical recruitment and exploitative labour practices. The newly launched partnership project aims to ensure that the human and labour rights of migrant workers are upheld in adidas’ supply chain, especially in high risk migrant corridors.   

The exploitation of migrant workers in global supply chains often begins in their home country, where they are subject to excessive fees to secure employment. Such situations create heavy indebtedness that makes it often impossible for migrants to walk away from exploitative working conditions. Looking to tackle one of the most complex human rights challenges in the global economy, IOM and adidas have joined forces to improve recruitment management systems and address related risks of modern slavery and human trafficking.   

The collaboration will consist of specialized trainings and due diligence measures. At the core of the project stands the importance of implementing the employer-pays-principle and improving access to remedy in cases where migrant workers’ rights are breached, particularly with regard to recruitment fees. The main goal is to ensure migrant workers in adidas’ labour supply chains are aware of their rights and know how to exercise them.   

“We are looking forward to working with IOM in upholding migrant workers’ basic rights and embedding the employer-pays-principle along our supply chain. At adidas we are committed to fair labour practices, including the elimination of recruitment fees and other costs incurred by migrant workers employed in our supply chain. Our commitment is reflected in our Policy on Responsible Recruitment and in our active engagement in several leading public-private sector initiatives, including the current IOM partnership,” said William Anderson, Vice President for Social and Environmental Affairs at adidas. 

Anderson added, “Since 2011 we have supported the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity and, more recently, we have pledged our support for the 2018 joint American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and FLA Commitment to Responsible Recruitment.”    

As international labour mobility continues to rise, migrants are becoming an important part of the workforce in global supply chains. The apparel and footwear sector is particularly reliant on migrant workers and factories often use unverified recruitment or employment agencies that render them vulnerable to risks of excessive recruitment fees and debt bondage. Many of these migrants active in the sector are women, often low-skilled workers from rural areas, vulnerable to coercive recruitment practices and exploitation. 

“IOM is part of a growing and multi-stakeholder alliance of like-minded actors seeking to promote the role of businesses acting as catalysts for change. The private sector has a significant and valuable role to play in realizing the positive benefits of migration and in minimizing its costs. At the heart of this collaboration is a shared commitment to improve the lives of millions of migrant workers in the garment and footwear supply chain that are moving within this region to work. Our partnership with adidas will promote human rights standards, ethical recruitment practices and fair employment conditions for these migrants,” said IOM project manager Max Pottler.   

The project is part of IOM’s direct engagement and partnership building with business towards addressing migrant worker vulnerabilities and develop sustainable solutions, notably through its flagship private sector engagement initiatives: the CREST (Corporate Responsibility for Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking) and the IRIS (International Recruitment Integrity System) projects. Recognizing that genuine progress towards these goals can only be made through collective industry efforts, IOM is committed to providing thought leadership on findings, best practices, and insights on how to implement ethical recruitment of migrant workers in extended labour supply chains, as well as strengthen and inspire action from peers.   

In 2017 and 2018, adidas and IOM cooperated in the region on a modern slavery training programme. Close to one hundred adidas Tier 2 suppliers from Viet Nam, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and China received guidance on how to identify and remedy unscrupulous employment practices, as well as reduce risks of modern slavery in operations and across the broader supply chain.   

The relevance of such partnerships between international organizations and business is indisputable in today’s context, with migration management increasingly becoming a responsibility which must be shared by private and public sector actors. By implementing gender-sensitive due diligence processes, ethical recruitment and responsible supply chain management, companies can mitigate risks for men and women migrant workers. The IOM-adidas partnership is an example of how such action can materialize.    

For more information please contact Nguyen Thi Minh Hien at IOM Ho Chi Minh City. Email:, Tel:  +84 964 753 936.