As a part of a joint effort to create a sustainable impact on worker welfare in Doha by Qatar Foundation, Qatar Foundation (QF) partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), and in consultation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations, 40 supervisors representing 18 different companies subcontracted by QF participated in an educational program titled “Ethically Managing a Migrant Workforce in Qatar: Policies, Principles and Perspectives” held on the campus of GU-Q in Education City.
The one-day program was developed in collaboration with QF, GU-Q, and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and designed to give managers in QF-contracted companies employing a migrant workforce, a better understanding of the critical importance of worker welfare from both an ethical and business perspective. ILO representative Marie-Jose Tayyah also attended the session in addition to staff from QF’s department of Health, Safety and Environment.
The case-based learning and highly participatory program offered four sessions that provided background on labor and labor migration in the Gulf and an overview of the complex challenges faced by a migrant workforce. Program participants also learned how to simultaneously improve workers’ lives and strengthen their organizations using ethical approaches to human-centered management and strategies for their adaptation and practical application.
Stephen Brigg, Executive Director of QF Health, Safety and Environment, said: “This joint program reflects Qatar Foundation’s ongoing commitment to improving worker welfare. Implementing welfare standards that protect the living and working conditions of every person who works in Education City is indispensable to Qatar Foundation. Since we aren’t the direct employers of a high number of migrant workers, the best way for us to ensure proper understanding and compliance of our welfare standards is by directly connecting with contracted companies who share our commitment for worker welfare, and helping them build their own culture of worker rights and safety.”
QF requires its employees and contractors and subcontractors to follow the foundation’s labor standards based on a holistic and principled approach that combines Qatari labor law and international best practices.
The program was taught by Zahra Babar, Associate Director for Research at GU-Q’s Center for International and Regional Studies, and Ed Soule, Associate Professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business (MSB) in Washington, DC, who specializes in managerial ethics, corporate social responsibility, and leadership. “We have first-hand experience with novel business models and creative employment experiences that have lifted the lives of employees in vexing circumstances,” he said, adding: “The values of the University and the commitments of the MSB encourage us to conduct this kind of research.”
Babar provided an overview of Qatar’s labor migration governance system and the reforms underway since 2011, and engaged participants in hands-on group activities, case studies, and reflection exercises. “The dynamic and innovative perspectives provided during the scenario exercises demonstrated a keenness to contribute solutions to the challenges lower-income migrants routinely experience,” she said, adding: “I hope that following on from participation in the course the attendees will walk away not only with greater insight and knowledge about the conditions of vulnerable migrant communities, but will also be energized to develop mechanisms that ensure the ethical treatment of migrant workforces in their companies and businesses.”
Noting the significance of a 2019 report from the ILO stating that 169 million international migrant workers in the world constituted 4.9 percent of the global labor force in the destination countries, Rodolph Boughaba, the Associate Dean for Executive Education at GU-Q, said: “We hope that through this collaboration with QF that we can make a positive contribution to a global issue that is important for countries all over the world, including Qatar.”
Participating managers received a Georgetown certificate for their participation, demonstrating their understanding of and commitment to worker welfare.