BBC expose: Finlays suspends two employees accused of sexually exploiting women

James Finlays Tea estate in Kericho County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

James Finlays Kenya has suspended two of its contractors featured in a BBC investigative report that exposed the sexual exploitation of women working in Kericho tea plantations.

In the BBC Africa Eye documentary, which aired on Monday, February 20, the managers were filmed preying on female workers in exchange for contract renewal and better working terms.

"We immediately suspended the two individuals featured in the BBC investigation and barred them from all Finlays sites," Finlays said in a statement.

The firm has also absorbed 300 staff members initially working under the company of one of the accused managers.

Finlays has also reported the suspects to the police, adding that it will assist in the investigations.

"There is no place for behaviour of this kind anywhere in our business. We firmly believe that everyone should feel safe when they come to work at Finlays. That is why we have robust policies and procedures in place - such as comprehensive guidance to staff, detailed and continuous training programmes, an anonymous third-party whistle-blowing hotline, as well as dedicated welfare and medical staff available on-site, to prevent abuse of any kind," said the company.

According to BBC, Starbucks also issued a statement on Monday, saying it was "deeply concerned" and had taken "immediate action".

In the BBC investigative report, more than 70 women claimed they had been sexually exploited by their supervisors on farms owned by Unilever, Lipton, and James Finlay.

Some women said that out of a lack of options, they gave in to the sexual advances from their bosses for fear of being sacked.