Project complete

Gulf responsible recruitment project

A photo of two male construction workers wearing yellow hard hats.

Improving employment rights in the Middle East

The Gulf has large numbers of migrant workers, and many of them are subjected to exploitative employment practices.

A coordinated and collaborative approach among employers and suppliers is needed to address these systemic employment violations. So a group of global consumer goods companies, coordinated by AIM-Progress, trained over 80 organisations operating in the region to improve employment practices and stamp out forced labour.

Middle East
12 months
Control Risks
A photo of two construction workers talking while on a break. A photo of a smiling construction worker wearing protective clothing.

Why the project was needed

35 million migrants, many from Asia and Africa, live and work in the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE). A large proportion of migrants work in manufacturing, logistics, construction, security and hospitality. And within these sectors, many workers are subjected to a range of exploitative employment practices that are considered signs of forced labour. These include passport retention, excessive recruitment fees, inability to resign from employment before a set date, contract swapping, excessive working hours, low wages and poor accommodation.

About the project

Because these employment violations are systemic, no single company can address them effectively. The Gulf responsible recruitment project was set up in recognition that long-term improvement could only be delivered through collaboration. It provided training that was sponsored by member companies – Mars, McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Unilever and Reckitt – to increase the number of suppliers and labour agencies following best practice and make a real impact on people’s lives in the Gulf.


suppliers and service providers were trained


suppliers made action plans

The training comprised a series of events across 2021 and 2022, which focused on two key groups: tier one manufacturers, and labour agencies. Each group received specialist training tailored to their needs, which included:

  • the context of responsible migrant labour recruitment and employment
  • growing requirements for good employment practices
  • the business case for good practice
  • how good employment practice can improve productivity and competitiveness
  • what responsible recruitment looks like, including due diligence
  • how to spot signs of exploitation
  • how to address employer grievances


  • Best practice shared at scale: 83 suppliers and service providers were trained
  • Effective training: 90% of suppliers and labour agencies rated the training excellent or very good
  • Commitment to improve: 43% of service providers plan to focus on improving recruitment and employment practices, and 25% intend to conduct self-audits as a result of the training
  • Action plans: 33 suppliers in total made action plans
  • Practical resources: 100 suppliers received a practical responsible recruitment supplier toolkit