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By Andrea Lo | December 5th, 2017

The Loop HK 30 Under 30 2017

Scott Stiles, CEO and co-founder; Grace Cheng, recruitment manager; Debra Ling, accounts and finance manager; Lidia Garcia, branch manager, Fair Employment Agency

Scott Stiles, Grace Cheng, Debra Ling and Lidia Garcia make up the management team behind Fair Employment Agency (FEA), a Hong Kong-based non-profit organization that helps domestic workers find work without illegal fees or debt bondage — a situation that unfortunately many fall victim to here in the SAR.

“We launched Fair Employment Agency as a better way of hiring domestic workers and to prove a business model without worker placement fees.”

US native Stiles first came to Hong Kong in 2012 as a student, and moved here a year later. In 2014 he co-founded the agency with David Bishop and Tammy Baltz. Cheng was the first to join the team; Ling and Garcia first worked as volunteers, and then became part of the management team.

“For too long, domestic worker employment agencies have been making money from doing a bad job. Employers are charged for bad customer service, while agencies secretly charge domestic workers too,” Stiles explains. “We launched Fair Employment Agency as a better way of hiring domestic workers and to prove a business model without worker placement fees.”

The FEA operates by charging employers a market rate for the service — but is free for workers. Stiles is in charge of fundraising as well as sales and marketing and strategic planning, while Cheng, Ling and Garcia manage day-to-day operations.

Since its establishment, FEA has placed over 1,800 Filipino domestic workers with families in Hong Kong — saving the workers an estimated $21 million in recruitment debt. “We’re motivated to keep doing what we’re doing because we believe that this is a solvable problem — we’re already seeing the market shift toward fairer standards for workers and employers.”