USCIB Partners With Global Business Organizations at UNGA Opening Week

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich opens the UN SDG Business Forum in July 2017

USCIB is proud of its affiliations with leading global business organizations in the multilateral system and had the privilege to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to make the case for recognized opportunities for the private sector to cooperate and dialogue with the UN across the range of issues covered by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

This year marked ICC’s first UNGA session attending as a recognized observer organization. ICC’s delegation was led by ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and included ICC executive board members and ICC Secretary General John Danilovich.  ICC’s planned engagement was intended to firmly establish ICC’s presence at the UN as the definitive voice of global business – building on engagement at this year’s UN Financing for Development Forum in May and the High-Level Political Forum in July.

ICC drew on the work of several ICC Commissions to inform deliberations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – from the important role of digital technologies in delivering the SDG’s to ICC’s trade facilitation activities, to its efforts to promote small and medium sized companies in trade and other commercial activities. ICC involvement during the UNGA’s opening week included:

-ICC High-Level week side-event, in conjunction with the governments of Indonesia, Norway and Mexico, as well as UNDESA and the Mobile association GSMA.

-Joining events on Digital Entrepreneurship for 2030,  the UN Innovation Summit, and the UN private Sector to discuss the role of private sector technology and innovation in implementing the SDG’s.

As in previous years, ICC played a leading role in the Concordia Summit, specifically in the session on “Innovative Financing Solutions to achieve SDG’s.”

International Organization of Employers (IOE)

USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson, who also serves as regional vice president for North America for the IOE, represented IOE during several employer-organized side-events, including the launch of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC). EPIC is a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership founded by the International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Women and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assist UN Member States in achieving the SDG’s, specifically those that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Robinson spoke on a panel on “Drawing top talent for innovation and growth at leading businesses through equal pay policies,” alongside business leaders from IKEA, Accenture, Barclay’s, GAP and Catalyst. Robinson emphasized the compelling business and economic case for unleashing women’s skills and talents and empowering women to enjoy equal access to job opportunities and career advancement. Rather than increasing regulation and legislation, Robinson pointed out that solutions for closing gender parity gaps include a better understanding of the barriers behind such gaps, with cultural and legal barriers differing widely among countries.

“The IOE, with its global membership, is well positioned to help in this regard in both education and advocacy: it is able to share and leverage the experiences of its membership in providing practical services to members and in informing and advising governments and international organizations on policy actions,” said Robinson.

Robinson also represented employers at an Alliance 8.7 launch of the ILO’s Modern Slavery and Child Labor Global Estimates where he provided insight on the position of employers with regards to child labor and forced labor. In his remarks, Robinson emphasized the continued dedication of employers to eradicate child labor and forced labor, noting the importance of collaboration between governments and the private sector, especially given the complexity of today’s global supply chains.

“While the primary responsibility lies with governments to establish and enforce national labor laws, business also has a desire and responsibility to do what it can to respect and follow those laws and looks forward to working with governments and other civil society actors in the shared fight to eliminate child and forced labor,” said Robinson.

The new Modern Slavery Global Estimates encompass forced labor and forced marriage and it is the first time such research was conducted. The ILO and the Walk Free Foundation jointly published the new Modern Slavery Global Estimates. Additionally, the new Child Labor estimates will be an update to the Global Estimates on Child Labor published by the ILO in 2012.

UNGA Events Promote Gender Equality, Tackle Child Labor

Last week’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York featured dozens of side-events organized by civil society, business and governments tackling pressing issues facing humanity in the 21st century, such as human rights, climate change and sustainable development.

USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson, who also serves as regional vice president for North America for the International Organization of Employers (IOE), advocated on behalf of IOE during several employer-organized side-events, including the launch of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC).

EPIC is a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership founded by the International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Women and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assist UN Member States in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), specifically those that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Robinson spoke on a panel on “Drawing top talent for innovation and growth at leading businesses through equal pay policies”, alongside business leaders from IKEA, Accenture, Barclay’s, GAP and Catalyst. Robinson emphasized the compelling business and economic case for unleashing women’s skills and talents and empowering women to enjoy equal access to job opportunities and career advancement. Rather than increasing regulation and legislation, Robinson pointed out that solutions for closing gender parity gaps include a better understanding of the barriers behind such gaps, with cultural and legal barriers differing widely among countries.

“The IOE, with its global membership, is well positioned to help in this regard in both education and advocacy: it is able to share and leverage the experiences of its membership in providing practical services to members and in informing and advising governments and international organizations on policy actions,” said Robinson.

Robinson also represented employers at an Alliance 8.7 launch of the ILO’s Modern Slavery and Child Labor Global Estimates where he provided insight on the position of employers with regards to child labor and forced labor on the high-level panel, “Harnessing the numbers to accelerate eradication.” In his remarks, Robinson emphasized the continued dedication of employers to eradicate child labor and forced labor, noting the importance of collaboration between governments and the private sector, especially given the complexity of today’s global supply chains.

“While the primary responsibility lies with governments, as the crucial eradication factor, to establish and enforce national labor laws, business also has a desire and responsibility to do what it can to respect and follow those laws and looks forward to working with governments and other civil society actors in the shared fight to eliminate child and forced labor,” said Robinson.

The event was moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop set the stage for the meeting and a “Call to Action” was provided by UK Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. Other government leaders included Belgium Deputy Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, Argentina’s Deputy Secretary of Foreign Relations Gustavo Zlauvinen, the African Union’s Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira El Fadil and Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, Martha Newton.

The new Modern Slavery Global Estimates encompass forced labor and forced marriage and it is the first time such research was conducted. The ILO and the Walk Free Foundation jointly published the new Modern Slavery Global Estimates. Additionally, the new Child Labor estimates will be an update to the Global Estimates on Child Labor published by the ILO in 2012.

USCIB Roundtable Explores Promise of Apprenticeships

L-R: Ronnie Goldberg (USCIB), John Ladd (US Department of Labor), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Shea Gopaul (Global Apprenticeship Network)

Apprenticeships play a crucial role in supporting the development of business-ready skills for youth and in realizing goals of inclusive economic growth and an equitable transition to a more sustainable world. In light of this, The USCIB Foundation, which is the educational and research arm of USCIB, partnered with Citi and the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) to organize a roundtable on July 20 in New York focused on apprenticeship models and practice in the U.S. The roundtable included representatives of approximately 25 companies who are either actively implementing apprenticeship programs or are interested in getting started.  John Ladd, the administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) joined the meeting.

John Ladd, administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor, gave remarks at the meeting

Ladd, who gave keynote remarks, discussed the context of what is driving interest in apprenticeships in the United States. “It would have been hard to imagine this conversation happening 10 years ago,” said Ladd. What changed? In particular, Ladd noted, unemployment is decreasing yet millions are still underemployed or unemployed and there is a clear mismatch between employers with jobs that have certain skills requirements and people in the sidelines who don’t yet have those skills. To address these challenges, employers – in partnership with government and educational institutions like community colleges – have identified apprenticeships as an effective means to help provide a path to employment for workers and to fill their own hiring needs with workers with the right skills for their jobs. The Executive Order on apprenticeships recently signed by President Donald Trump provides a framework for the key role USDOL will play in supporting business in this key area.

The hour-long breakout session led to a collaborative discussion among companies, nonprofits and NGO’s in attendance on both solutions and common challenges that need to be addressed, such as the need to educate students, communities and families about the benefits of apprenticeships in lieu of 2-year or 4-year post-secondary options. Other challenges raised by participants included issues around the definitions of apprenticeships as well as the need to create technological solutions and compelling marketing schemes that will resonate with millennials. Many participants agreed on the important role of government, both local and national, as a convener, citing the United Kingdom as a good role model for public private partnership in enabling successful apprenticeship programs.

“It’s very clear that we’re preaching about benefits of apprenticeships to the converted,” said USCIB’s Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg during her concluding remarks and summary of the roundtable. “We must now leverage the enthusiasm and expertise as evidenced in this workshop to drive positive change within our companies and communities. Apprenticeships will enable young people to have jobs and a career, but also provide companies with talent for the future.”

The event was hosted by the Citi Foundation and attended by companies such as Hilton, Nestle, IBM, Bechtel and Microsoft.

USCIB and ILO Hold Dialogue on Disabilities in the Workplace

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg facilitates panel at the joint USCIB-ILO-AT&T event on Disability Inclusion in Washington DC

U.S. companies are increasingly sensitive to the importance of enhancing workplace diversity, particularly for people with disabilities. In an effort to promote U.S. company membership in the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN), USCIB, AT&T and the ILO held an event at the AT&T Forum in Washington DC on June 20 for business leaders, “Promoting disability inclusion globally.”

The GBDN is a network of multinational enterprises, employers’ organizations, business networks and disabled persons’ organizations who share the conviction that people with disabilities have talents and skills that can enhance virtually any business and can be a powerful tool for sharing global best practices and accessing relevant networks around the world. In addition to hosting the event, AT&T was also a featured speaker and has a strong corporate commitment to employing persons with disabilities.

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg gave opening remarks and facilitated a panel on “Best Practices in the Employment of Persons with Disabilities in the Global South,” which also featured speakers from L’Oreal, Repsol, Accenture and Cisco.

Panelists discussed some of their company initiatives such as Cisco’s Project Life Changer and Accenture’s Tech4Good, which support employees with disabilities through technological and work culture integration. Many of the companies discussed the importance of building an employable skill-set while others, such as Cisco, go even further to alter the recruitment process, placing more emphasis on internships and experience.

“Smart companies have known for some time that there is a robust business case for workplace diversity in general and for hiring people with disabilities in particular,” said Goldberg. “All the data suggests that people with disabilities are productive, reliable and highly motivated employees.  They can also constitute a significant market, and some companies have prospered by developing products and services for people with disabilities, their families and friends.”

Goldberg noted that USCIB members are global enterprises, with employees and customers in every part of the world.  “The network and opportunities for best practice and information sharing provided by the ILO GBDN can be an important resource for MNEs as they devise and implement their human resource, product development, and marketing strategies in diverse communities across the globe,” she said.

The event also featured USCIB members from Deloitte, Boeing and Accenture.

Potter Gives Statement on Climate Change at ILO Conference

USCIB Senior Counsel Ed Potter is currently attending the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-16) as a U.S. employer delegate. The ILC is discussing pressing global issues such as women at work, application of labor standards, peace and stability, migration and climate change.

Potter delivered the following statement on June 12 during the 2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s report on behalf of business regarding climate change and the Paris Agreement:

 

2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s Report

Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement on climate change is now the globally recognized framework for international climate action and represents a reset of the global approach to climate change.  Anything adopted by the ILO on climate change prior to 2015 should be reevaluated in light of the Paris Agreement.   The Paris Agreement is historic because it envisions self-determined actions and pledges by all countries, according to their priorities and resources.  Importantly, it eliminated the binary Kyoto annexes which divided 193 countries into 2 arbitrary categories.

We are concerned by language in the Director General’s Report that seems to over-simplify the challenge ahead, portraying a straightforward “green” vs. “dirty” choice of technologies, industries, products and jobs.  We do not live in a binary “green” job “brown” job world, and similarly we do not have “green” versus “brown” energy or technology.  The reality is more complex, and there are many other stakeholders involved – notably consumers.  The fact is that all industry sectors will need to transition to cleaner and more efficient operations and energy sources.  The scale of transformation required to meet Paris commitments cannot be met without business finding ways to respond to growing populations seeking reliable affordable energy sources to run businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.  Whether the discussion is on ICT and smart grids, or new ways to sequester carbon that could extend the use of fossil fuels while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, or zero emissions transport, a fuller and more multi-dimensional picture of enterprises is needed.  It is not about the coal miner versus the solar panel installer – it is much more complex.

Transitions will be felt in the business community in the form of opportunities for new industries or products across a wider array of sectors than those normally referred to as “green” through supply and value chains and arising from regulations, costs or innovations that result in more disruptive change or harm to competitiveness.  Without growth and productive employment, there is less room for the successful protection of the environment and the promotion of decent work.  As enterprises are the primary source of job creation, a business-friendly environment remains an essential priority.   Sustainable jobs and sustainable businesses go hand in hand.

The Paris Agreement calls not just on governments but other societal partners, including the business community to act.  The business community has shown strong and continuous commitment to support the Paris Agreement and its implementation.  Delivering the Paris commitments depends on the full engagement of business and employers.  In fact, after my country’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, nearly 1000 large companies and investors joined a “We Are Still In” movement, representing 120 million Americans and 40 percent of the US economy at the state and municipal level.  Local attitudes are important and matter.

As highlighted in the Director General’s Report, over the past two years. the UNFCCC has launched its work on “Just Transition”.  Yet until last month, the UNFCCC did not adequately or directly involve business and employers on these topics – while the ILO has been consulted throughout, as has the ITUC.  It is only in the last 2 months that business or employer views have been communicated to the UNFCCC via a joint submission by the IOE and ICC, and by IOE and ICC participation in the May 9 Bonn meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.   The Roundtable highlighted the need for enhanced involvement of employers and the need for direct consultation with them in the future on just transition and other employment related matters.  Tripartism is a cornerstone of this Organization and should apply both inside and outside the ILO.

Much of the Director General’s report focuses on the labor market churn that will occur as a result of the transition from “dirty” to “green” jobs.  The strong impression the reader gets from his Report is that climate change requires a dedicated, special program by the ILO.  Our view is that structural change and job impact of climate change is not at all dissimilar from other ongoing structural change resulting from technological change.  Ask any expert about the future of work and you will hear about a world dominated by artificial intelligence, 3D printing, an on-demand economy, and five generations in a virtual workplace where almost any worker can perform almost any work from anywhere they choose. The ILO approach to climate change needs to be knitted together and treated holistically with other ILO structural change initiatives and the future of work.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

Rigg Herzog Attends 2017 International Labor Conference

Secretary General Guy Ryder at 2017 ILC

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog is among approximately 7,000 delegates currently attending the 106th session of the International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva (taking place June 5-16). The ILC will touch upon pressing global issues such as women at work, application of labor standards, peace and stability, migration and climate change. Rigg Herzog is attending the ILC as a member of the U.S. Employers Delegation, headed by Ed Potter, USCIB senior counsel and U.S. employer spokesperson to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Governing Body.

Rigg Herzog will be participating in the Committee for Labor Migration, while Potter will participate in the Committee for Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which is a follow-up to the ILO’s Social Justice Declaration. Adopted in 2008 by the representatives of governments, employers and workers from all ILO member States, the Social Justice Declaration expresses the contemporary vision of the ILO’s mandate in the era of globalization.

This year’s conference also includes a Committee on Employment and Decent Work for the Transition to Peace, as well as the Committee on the Application of Standards.

USCIB and ILO to Host Event on Promoting Disability Inclusion

USCIB has teamed up with the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN) to host an event in Washington DC for business leaders, “Promoting disability inclusion globally” on June 20 with the aim of supporting companies in increasing their opportunities to promote disability inclusion globally. The event will be hosted by USCIB’s member AT&T and will feature speakers from Deloitte and other USCIB member companies.

The GBDN is a network of multinational enterprises, employers’ organizations, business networks and disabled persons’ organizations who share the conviction that people with disabilities have talents and skills that can enhance virtually any business. The ILO believes ‘Disability Inclusion makes good business sense’.

The event was also featured in a Huffington Post article, “Helping U.S. Based Corporations Join the Global Disability Inclusion Conversations.”

Goldberg Gives Keynote at ILO Women in Business Conference

Ronnie Goldberg gives keynote remarks at ILO Women in Business and Management Conference

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg was a keynote speaker at an ILO Latin American Regional Conference on Women in Business and Management, held on May 23 in Lima, Peru.  Over 300 attendees were drawn from virtually every country of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Goldberg’s speech drew from the findings of a series of  BIAC reports, such as the report on Putting All Our Minds to Work: Harnessing the Gender Dividend and Putting All Our Ideas to Work: Women and Entrepreneurship, that highlight the business case for women’s economic empowerment and identify best practices and practical policy recommendations for advancing women’s roles in the workplace.

Her comments also addressed gender-based challenges to launching and running a business, including access to finance and business networks, as well as cultural and gender bias,  and highlighted  a number of issues and challenges facing women in STEM and information and computer technology (ICT) careers.

Among the Conference speakers was Marcela Esquivel, global director, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Business Unit, The Coca-Cola Company, who spoke about the company’s robust efforts to promote women internally, and to foster women’s entrepreneurship in its supply chain.

B20-L20 Delivers Joint Statement to G20 Labor Ministers

The B20 and L20 presented a joint statement at a G20 labor ministers dinner on May 17 in Bad Neuenahr, Germany which was attended by USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg. Linda Kromjong, IOE’s secretary general and Sharan Burrow, ITUC’s secretary general, jointly presented the statement to the ministers and all B20 and L20 signatories at the handover ceremony  to German Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles.

This year’s statement builds on the IOE/BIAC and ITUC/TUAC statement from last year with a specific focus on sustainable growth, decent work and social cohesion in the digital economy.

In line with the key priorities of the G20 German presidency, the statement reinforces the important role that business and labor have in shaping policies that not only maximize the opportunities for employment creation, but that also minimize adverse effects on employment and working conditions. Given the special focus on the digital economy, the recommendations in the statement are linked to the impact of technological change on employment and call on governments to grab the chances that technological change presents as well as address its challenges.

To harness the opportunities of technological advancements, it is important that technology is widely diffused so that businesses can maximize the potential of its use. This will facilitate the creation of an agile business environment that can offer growth of income opportunities in all of its forms in the formal economy.

Going forward, the workforce using new technology needs to be well equipped for the new digital age. This requires taking a fresh approach to education, up- and re-skilling and ensuring that all individuals have access to opportunities that allow them to continually upgrade their skills. The B20/L20 joint understanding on key elements of quality apprenticeships, the G20 Skills Strategy as well as the G20 Apprenticeship Initiative clearly have a key role to play in modernizing existing training systems.

Business Finalizes Recommendations to G20 Sherpas

USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes de Rioja (2ns and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris
USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes (2nd and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson took part in today’s Special B20 Germany-OECD-BIAC meeting at the OECD in Paris, designed to provide coordinated private-sector input to the G20 leaders, in advance of a key G20 sherpas meeting this week in Germany. The main G20 leaders summit is scheduled for July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany.

“Today’s meetings were important because we finalized key recommendations to the G20 sherpas on trade and investment policy, job-creation and the digitalization of the economy, among other topics,” said Robinson, who serves as co-chair of the B20 Employment and Education Task Force. “We hope the G20 governments will take these recommendations to heart.”

B20 President Jürgen Heraeus stated: “If we want to ensure future-oriented, sustainable economic growth, business has an important role to play. We are ready to do so. This cooperation offers the outstanding opportunity to shape global economic governance. Our global economy is changing rapidly. We are facing a multitude of risks: climate change, political conflicts, terrorism to name just a few. The G20 can serve as an agenda-setter.”

The B20 meeting was co-hosted by Business at OECD (BIAC), and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria addressed the gathering. “Business at OECD provides continuity and expertise across G20 and B20 presidencies,” said Business at OECD Chairman Phil O’Reilly. “We support the OECD in its vital mission to improve domestic and global economic governance. At a time when trade and investment across borders are subject of much ill-informed debate, OECD evidence on the substantial benefits of open and competitive markets is more important than ever.”

Daniel Funes de Rioja, chairman of the International Organization of Employers, also took part in today’s meetings. Meanwhile, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan participated in meetings in London around the conclusion of the G20 finance ministers meeting, which was notable in part for the ministers’ decision not to re-emphasize their shard commitment to resisting trade protectionism.

Following the conclusion finance ministers meeting, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John Danilovich issued a statement calling on the G20 governments to commit to shared values of openness and cooperation.

“We continue to face the challenge of global growth being too low and benefiting too few,” said Danilovich. “This is the defining economic test of our times, and we urge all G20 economies to take concerted and urgent action to enable inclusive growth. A retreat into protectionism would be the wrong response to this challenge.”

Danilovich continued: “Trade and globalization are complex processes, but at their heart are some simple truths. Trade means more choice for consumers. It means lower prices, so the money in your pocket goes further. Companies that trade are more competitive, and create more and better-paid jobs. That’s why trade matters if we’re to deliver the increases in prosperity, and reductions in inequality, that G20 finance ministers rightly committed to realize this weekend.”

“The global business community is naturally concerned by any weakening of the G20’s decade-long stance on resisting protectionism. We remain encouraged that discussions on this issue will continue in the coming months at official level. ICC will do all it can to urge G20 leaders to take the strongest possible stance on maintaining open markets at their annual summit in Hamburg in July. Protectionism is no path to progress.”