We got started because we saw a better way of hiring domestic helpers. By removing worker placement fees, we’ve reinvented the domestic helper agency so that it is fair to workers, and fair to employers.
For too long, employment agencies have been making money from doing a bad job. Employers are charged for bad customer service, while agencies secretly charge domestic helpers too. This illegal practice leaves domestic helpers in debt and it fails employers.
When agencies charge domestic helpers, they are incentivised to place those who are willing to pay, rather than those who are right for the job. When a helper is fired or quits, the agency makes more money by charging replacement workers. Meanwhile the domestic helper gets further into debt as she borrows more money for a new job.
We saw this broken system and knew we could do better.
We launched Fair Employment Agency as a better way of hiring domestic helpers. Because we never charge fees to domestic helpers, our agency works for the interests of everyone.
Domestic helpers benefit because they start their jobs free from recruitment debt. Employers benefit because we only place helpers who are a good match for their family. And Hong Kong benefits because we are setting a new standard of professionalism for all employment agencies.
How we got started
A solvable problem - Aug 2012
Whilst on an internship in Hong Kong, Scott Stiles gets talking to his brother-in-law David Bishop about the problems with the domestic worker recruitment system. The student and lawyer-turned-university lecturer think “we can solve this”. They plan to beat exploitative employment agencies at their own game with a new kind of agency. One that is fair to workers and fair to employers.
The Founders - Sep 2012
Soon afterwards, Tammy Baltz joins the team. Tammy has been volunteering with indebted domestic workers for 10 years and is also trying to fix the worker placement fees problem. Scott, David and Tammy become the Fair Employment Agency founders.
The business plan - Oct 2012
Scott finishes up his internship in Hong Kong and goes back to university in the US. He writes up a business plan for the ‘Domestic Worker Project’. Meanwhile David and Tammy continue building support for the idea in Hong Kong.
Start-up funds - Oct 2013
Some philanthropists see Scott’s business plan and promise start-up funds if he moves out to Hong Kong to do it. They’re a little surprised when he actually turns up in Hong Kong to do it! But thankfully still give start-up funds anyway.
We hit the streets - May 2014
With no money for advertising, Scott, Tammy, David and a small army of students hit the streets telling people about our new ethical employment agency.
We’re official! - Aug 2014
We receive accreditation from the Philippines Consulate (and get our first logo).
Hello Wan Chai - Aug 2014
We move into Fair HQ in Wan Chai. Still our home today, with a lot more people squeezed in.
First placement - Sep 2014
Our new employment agency officially opens its doors. We are featured in SCMP’s Post Magazine and the phone starts ringing! We match our first worker with our first employer, and the worker doesn’t pay a thing.
More leadership - Jan 2015
Jennifer Meehan hears what we’re doing and offers her help. The former Asia Regional CEO of Grameen Foundation volunteers full time for two years as our Director of Strategic Development. She builds out our impact evaluation model and helps our young team grow into leadership roles.
Wonderful people - Mar 2015
As demand grows for our services, we have to expand the team quite quickly. We’re grateful to find wonderful, talented people who want to join our team.
Hello space - Jul 2015
As demand grows, we need to expand again to fit more wonderful people in. We rent another office (upstairs from Fair HQ).
Promo vid - Oct 2016
Our friends at Thomson Reuters help us produce a promotional video which is played to 60,000 people at Hong Kong’s biggest music festival.
Clockenflap - Nov 2016
Fair Employment Agency volunteers greet thousands of festival goers at Clockenflap and spread the word on our work.
1000th placement - Dec 2016
We place 1000 domestic workers, saving those workers an estimated US$1.5million in recruitment debt.
TVB Pearl Report - Apr 2017
TVB Pearl feature our work in a feature length piece on exploitation in the domestic worker recruitment process. Fair Employment Agency is presented as a new type of domestic helper agency and we have a boost in new clients after the show airs.
A new look - Oct 2017
Thanks to a kind donor, we strengthen all of our technology platforms, build a new website and update our look.
Goodbye Wanchai, hello Sheung Wan! - Aug 2018
Coming up to our fourth year, our team was quickly outgrowing our first office in Wanchai. We moved to a bigger space in Sheung Wan that would fit our 20+ team comfortably. We were fortunate to have Spatial Concept who helped us design the space to be functional and even painted our walls with the FEA colours.