USCIB Co-Hosts Event on Employing Persons With Disabilities

L-R: Rob Mulligan (USCIB), Yves Veulliet, (IBM), Stefan Tromel (ILO)

USCIB joined IBM and the International Labor Organization’s Global Business and Disability Network to host an event on June 26 in Washington DC on “Sustainable Employment of Persons With Disabilities Globally.” The event brought together representatives of companies with extensive experience in this area to discuss ways to address important topics such as ensuring digital accessibility, bridging the digital skills gap and promoting the employment of persons with disabilities in emerging economies, particularly in China and India.

“In our role as the U.S. industry representative to the International Organization of Employers, USCIB has been a strong supporter of the ILO GBDN from the beginning,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan during his opening remarks. “USCIB members recognize that doing our best to protect and strengthen the economic, political and social position of every member of society is fundamental to economic and social progress. What companies are increasingly coming to realize – and what smart companies have known for some time – is that there is also a strong business and economic case for employing a variety of under-represented groups: the larger, more diverse and more prosperous the universe of potential employees and customers, the better for business.”

Mulligan was joined by other high-level company representatives throughout the day-long event including those from Merck, Tommy Hilfiger, E&Y and Accenture. Over 50 representatives from government, industry and civil society attended.

USCIB Statement on U.S. Withdrawal From the UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (credit: U.S. Mission to the UN)

New York, N.Y., June 20, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business, which represents the views of the American private sector to major multilateral organizations, international forums and national governments, issued the following statement regarding the U.S. decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council as well as the separation of families at the southern border:

“We are disappointed that the United States has chosen to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). While we agree with the Administration and Ambassador Nikki Haley that the Council is badly in need of reform, this can only come about through continued, direct and vigorous engagement by the United States, working with allies, civil society groups and representatives of the private sector.

“We urge the United States to reconsider this decision. In the meantime, USCIB and its global business partners will continue to represent the views of the private sector on matters affecting American business in the UNHRC and other international forums. USCIB will also continue its cooperation with the Administration to represent U.S. business interests on social and human rights issues across the United Nations system, including in the ILO.

“USCIB members are strongly committed to human rights. We will continue to advocate for both governments’ duty to protect and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“Lastly, especially in the context of U.S. withdrawal from the UNHRC, harmful U.S. action to separate children of illegal immigrants apprehended at our southern border from their families is contrary to American values. Such troubling practices at home risk calling into question U.S. leadership and dedication to upholding human rights. We are hopeful that President Trump, as he has pledged to do, will address this issue via executive order and reunite these families without delay.”

About USCIB:

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:

Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications

+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

 

Herzog Leads US Employer Delegation to ILO Conference

2018 International Labor Conference. Photo Credit: ILO

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibly and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog led a five-member U.S. Employer delegation to the 107th annual International Labor Conference (ILC) of the International Labor Organization (ILO) May 28 – June 8. The ILC is the ILO’s annual policy setting meeting at which global representatives of national governments, employers and workers gather to negotiate and adopt policy and governance on a range of priority issues.

This year’s ILC was attended by over 5,000 participants from across the world, of which 32.7% were women. “Important topics discussed by delegates this year included the role of the ILO in carrying out development cooperation programs in light of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, and what constitutes social dialogue in the workplace and what value can it deliver to industrial relations and productive workplaces,” noted Herzog. The ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards also met to review in detail 24 cases of governments alleged to not be effectively enforcing a range of ILO standards they had ratified and committed to implement. Without a doubt, however, the topic at the top of this year’s ILC agenda was the first round of a two-year standard-setting discussion on violence & harassment in the workplace.

“The challenge and the opportunity for the ILO and its tripartite constituents is how to develop an instrument that can protect the most people, with special focus on gender-based violence and harassment, in the most places in the world,” stressed Herzog. “This will be a challenge because while violence in the workplace is broadly understood and condemned, there is less universal understanding and consensus around the world on what constitutes harassment. Given this and the growing realization of the prevalence and negative impacts of these unacceptable behaviors, USCIB and global employers are and will continue to work to address these practices where they appear and also push for an effective instrument addressing this issue at the ILO.”

While there was consensus among the government, employer and worker representatives on the need for ILO action, there was unfortunately lack of consensus on core definitions that will determine the ultimate effectiveness of the instrument and its chances to interest governments in ratification. Unfortunately, vague and contested definitions for foundational issues like what constitutes violence and harassment, who is a worker, what are the boundaries of a workplace, and the behaviors from which workers should be protected were adopted. The problems with these overly broad definitions began to become clear to some of the participants when discussions turned to operationalizing the responsibilities of governments and employers.

“USCIB – together with our members and IOE’s global affiliates – will work hard over the coming year to meaningfully engage tripartite ILO partners with an eye towards a refresh in 2019 and a hopefully more balanced text that is both bold in its aspiration but practical in its direction to governments on the important task of working to eliminate both violence and harassment from the workplace,” said Herzog.

Herzog gave remarks at the closing ceremony in support of the IOE violence and harassment spokesperson. Her full speech can be found here, and below.

Education and Re-skilling in the Age of AI

By Andreas Schleicher, Shea Gopaul and Peter Robinson

Faced with major economic and social disruption, business and policy leaders are joining together to devise strategies and models to adapt the skills of the existing and future workforce to the opportunities offered by AI, automation, robotics and digitalization. McKinsey reports that 42% in the United States, 24% in Europe, and 31% in the rest of the world admit they currently lack a “good understanding of how automation and/or digitization will affect […] future skill needs.”

To prepare for looming technological upheavals, we need to understand the current educational and training landscape, its limitations, examine the latest research on the future skills needed and highlight some of the most effective employment and human resources strategies and educational models that can better position all stakeholders for the imminent change. We argue that by working together, especially through public-private partnerships, business and policy leaders can develop effective work-readiness and skill matching solutions, lifelong learning and re-skilling approaches to prepare both employers and employees for the changing world of work.

Teaching People to Learn

For some, AI and globalization can be liberating and exciting; but for those who are insufficiently prepared, they can mean uncertainty in employment, and a life without prospects. Our economies are shifting towards regional hubs of production, linked together by global chains of information and goods, but concentrated where comparative advantage can be built and renewed. This makes the distribution of knowledge and wealth crucial, and that is intimately tied to the distribution of educational opportunities.

The dilemma for education is that the kinds of things that are easy to teach have now become easy to digitize and automate (e.g. memorization vs. critical thinking). The modern world does not reward us just for what we know – Google knows everything – but for what we can do with what we know. So, the focus must shift to enabling people to become lifelong learners, which encourages constant learning, unlearning and relearning when the contexts change, and integrates both the practical world of work, with the theoretical world of learning. The future is about pairing computers with the cognitive, social and emotional skills of human beings.

These days, AI algorithms sort us into groups of like-minded individuals. They create virtual bubbles that amplify our views and leave us insulated from divergent perspectives. Tomorrow’s educational institutions will need to help students to think for themselves and join others, with empathy, in work and citizenship, and build character qualities such as perseverance, empathy or perspective taking, mindfulness, ethics, courage and leadership.

But to transform schooling at scale, we need not just a radical, alternative vision of what’s possible, but also smart strategies and effective institutions. Our current educational institutions were invented in the industrial age, when the prevailing norms were standardization and compliance, and when it was both effective and efficient to educate students in batches and to train teachers once for their entire working lives. The curricula that spelled out what students should learn were designed at the top of the pyramid, then translated into instructional material, teacher education and learning environments, often through multiple layers of government, until they reached, and were implemented by, individual teachers in the classroom.

This structure, in a fast-moving world, reacts to current needs, far too slowly. Today, we need to embrace AI also in ways that elevate the role of educators from imparting received knowledge towards working as co-creators of knowledge, as coaches, as mentors and as evaluators. AI can support new ways of teaching that focus on learners as active participants (e.g. chat bot, gaming applications).

Public/Private Coming-Together Around Skills

With 40% of employers reporting that they lack the talent required, it is surprising that at the same time global youth unemployment as stated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) is at 66 million. There is clearly a mismatch and the private sector has a critical role to play in resolving this skills-education deficit. Employer-driven education (i.e. apprenticeships, traineeships, internships, learnerships) are key in equipping the workforce with the soft and technical skills that employers require.

In countries such as Switzerland and Germany with robust apprenticeship programs and strong employer engagement, the rate of youth unemployment is very low. So, why aren’t there more apprenticeships and employer driven education? In many countries, the policies, regulations, registration process for setting up work-based learning programs are cumbersome and time-consuming for employers. The return on investment (ROI) is often unknown, e.g. in the U.S. for every $1 spent there is a return of $1.47. Lastly, educational institutions are not always linking to employers on curriculum design to reflect the world of work’s latest needs.

We have learnt at the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), a public-private partnership (PPP), that the convening of key stakeholders at the local city and country level ensures that education and legislation is better attuned to the world of work. Although private and public stakeholders do not always speak the same language, bringing them together increases their mutual understanding of the needs and changes that will assist in getting skills for business and jobs for youth.

Employers are uniquely positioned to define the skills required in the world of AI, robotics and automation as they are developing these technologies. Sadly, their importance as not only job creators, but also curricula designers, are often overlooked and they are often left out of the conversation and decision-making process. Work-based learning and notably apprenticeships connect education to work and we are seeing more and more employers creating innovative apprenticeships – part-time apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and a vast range of online tools. e.g. e-apprenticeships. In the last five years since GAN’s inception, it has become increasingly apparent that these models must be leveraged to ensure that not only youth, but also middle-aged and senior population groups adapt their skills and competencies to the fast evolving economic and technological context. In short, with the need for re-skilling and lifelong learning on an unprecedented scale, innovative apprenticeships can help get skills for business and jobs for all.

Below are two business-led initiatives that further illustrate the power of public-private partnership in skilling and reskilling. With the uncertainties linked to fast-paced technological change, these models show us how all actors – public and private- can join forces to ensure that skill development is continuously connected to present and future socioeconomic needs.

The first is IBM’s P-TECH school, a public-private partnership educational model that addresses postsecondary degree completion and career readiness by smoothing the transitions between high-school, college, and the professional world in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It recognizes that students need early and engaging experiences with the world of work, to make the academic work in high school and college meaningful and to fully prepare them with the workplace skills required by employers. The model pairs educational institutions with “employer partners” to act as mentors, develop curriculum, organize site visits, internships and other workplace learning opportunities.

The sustainability of the model depends on public authorities’ active involvement to develop appropriate frameworks, regulations, licensing, etc. Starting with one school in 2011 and engaging over 400 business partners, P-TECH expects to have 100 schools in 2018. IBM also ensures that its own workforce has continuous access to lifelong learning. Through the Think40 program IBM staff is asked to pursue at least 40 hours of personal and technical skills development through formal classes, self-paced learning, and online resources. The Think Academy platform allows IBM staff to access customized training which is constantly updated to IBM’s clients’ most current and pressing needs.

The second example is based on Randstad’s approach to “put humans first” in the age of digital transformation. Randstad supports clients to integrate versatility in their organizational culture, through a wide variety of re-skilling mechanisms, ranging from external & internal training, mentorship to job rotations and adult apprenticeships. Moreover, Randstad operating companies facilitate the integration and reintegration of vulnerable segments of society (e.g. youth, women, senior staff) with more than 100 social innovation programs mostly through public-private partnerships across the world. For example, in Spain, the Randstad Foundation works with more than 600 companies to ensure the reintegration of those at risk of exclusion from the labor market. In Italy and in the Netherlands, Randstad focuses on employees over 50 years of age, by organizing training in the latest technologies, advocacy, and networking opportunities (12 events to date) with employers.

This overview of initiatives, models and partnerships demonstrates that, through collaboration involving public and private entities, excellent strategies can be developed, not only to adapt to the upcoming technological change, but also to capitalize on the opportunities technology has to offer for the creation of better jobs and better lives.

Employers Are Optimistic in the Age of AI

We’re all being told that our jobs are doomed by robots and automation. But the OECD estimates that only nine percent of jobs across the 35 OECD nations are at high risk of being automated, although of course even nine percent can generate plenty of social difficulties. But there is an established track record throughout history of new technologies creating at least as many new jobs as they displace. Usually these new jobs demand higher skills and provide higher pay. The biggest threat is that our educational institutions won’t be able to keep pace with the new skills demands including the important skills that AI will not be able to replace.

For global employers, there is a steadily growing mismatch between what companies need in terms of skills and what the workforce is coming equipped to do. In an economy with a significant on-demand labor force, two main types of competencies will be needed: “technical” – or in other words, related to deep knowledge of a specific domain, whether welding or engineering, and “transversal,” which applies to all occupations. Those are described by the Center for Curriculum Redesign as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

The Skills Employers Will Seek

So what skills will managers need as a result of likely structural changes, driven by AI and growth of the on-demand economy? A recent survey by Business at OECD (BIAC) surveyed 50 employers’ organizations worldwide. It showed that employers value not just the skills and character traits described above, but also character qualities as well, such as mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, leadership and meta-learning (e.g. growth mindset and metacognition).

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that, in a constantly changing world, an individual’s versatility matters; so, the model developed by Jim Spohrer of IBM, of a “T-shaped” person, holds true: broad and deep individuals capable of adapting and going where the demand lies.

Employers’ organizations at the national and global levels are already developing innovative programs to help governments and educators anticipate the needs of the future workforce. Through robust action at the global level, including through the G-20 and the OECD, policy makers can also make sure that they are helping their populations succeed and thrive in a world of AI and other technological advances.

This overview highlights the strength of partnerships between the public and the private sector in preparing for the unpredictable. For such alliances to reach their full potential, on the one hand governments and policy makers must be open to the private sector’s input and on the other hand employers need to take a long term view of the ROI and accordingly commit resources in skilling and educating their current and future staff, notably through apprenticeship and work-readiness programs.

Andreas Schleicher heads the Directorate of Education and Skills at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Shea Gopaul is executive director and founder of the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN). Peter Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).

For more information, please contact:

OECD: news.contact@oecd.org
GAN: gueco@gan-global.org
USCIB: jhuneke@uscib.org

Goldberg Presents New Report on Global Compact on Migration

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg

The Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) welcomed representatives of national and sub-regional employers’ organizations (EOs), including USCIB’s Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg from 16 countries in the East, Central and Southern Africa region to Kampala last week for their annual two-day conference.

Panel discussions explored themes of youth employment, regional integration and labor migration, with Goldberg, who attended on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), outlining the business perspective on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will be adopted by the UN later this year.

Goldberg described ways in which the IOE and newly formed Business Mechanism to the GFMD were presenting business perspectives to the government negotiators. “Migration policy is not simply a political issue,” she noted. “Labor mobility is an economic necessity and skills mobility is central to the ability of companies to thrive and compete in global markets.”

The theme of this year’s conference, which was co-funded by the European Union, built on the Declaration from the 2017 event in Walvis Bay, Namibia.  Last week, the assembled EO leaders were joined by experts from the IOE, ILO and IOM to explore: “From Declaration to Action – Accelerating an enabling environment for youth employability and entrepreneurship”.

The keynote address was delivered by Chairperson of the FUE Nicholas Okwir, who was joined in the opening session by Jacqueline Mugo, secretary-general of Business Africa, Matthias Thorns, director of stakeholder engagement from the IOE and Jealous Chirove, employment specialist from ILO Dar es Salaam.

The second part of the two-day program considered best practices to address youth unemployment, as well as ways to foster youth and women’s entrepreneurship. Group sessions worked on a Road Map to identify and implement key areas for action, in line with the objective of the event.

IOE Vice-President for the ILO Mthunzi Mdwaba looked ahead to the 2018 International Labor Conference, with a comprehensive overview of the key matters of relevance to the Employers. He also updated the EOs on other ILO developments requiring concerted Employer engagement.

ILO Launches Inquiry Into Rights Violations in Venezuela

For only the 13th time in its history, the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body agreed to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela to examine allegations of the Venezuelan government’s non-compliance with a number of legally-binding ILO Conventions. Specifically, allegations were made of attacks, harassment, aggression and a campaign to discredit the employers’ organization – FEDECAMARAS – its leaders and affiliates.

“This action is especially notable because it is a rare instance of ILO action supporting an employer organization’s right to freedom of association,” said Ed Potter who serves as the USCIB’s ILO Governing Body member. It is the only other time, again after a decade old fight, that an Employer freedom of association case was approved for a Commission of Inquiry by the GB.

At its 332nd meeting earlier this month, the ILO Governing Body agreed, by consensus, to approve the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela. The allegations against the Government of Venezuela state a lack of consultation with FEDECAMARAS on laws that affect the labor and economic interests of the employers, and the adoption of numerous increases to the minimum wage without consultation with employer and worker representatives. The Governing Body has discussed this complaint six times since it was presented by 33 employer delegates at the International Labor Conference in June 2015.

“In taking the decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry, the Governing Body expressed deep concern about the lack of any progress with respect to its previous decisions and recommendations regarding the complaint,” noted Potter. “In particular, it referred to the failure to establish a tripartite roundtable, bringing together government, employer, worker as well as ILO representatives to resolve all pending issues. The Governing Body also expressed its regret that it had not been able to carry out the high-level mission it had recommended at its November 2017 Session, due to objections raised by the Government about the agenda of the mission.”

The Commission of Inquiry is made up of three independent members and is tasked with carrying out a full investigation of the complaint, ascertaining all the facts of the case, and making recommendations to address the problems raised in the complaint. A Commission of Inquiry is the ILO’s highest-level investigative procedure. It is generally set up when a member State is alleged to have committed persistent and serious violations of ratified International Labor Conventions, which are binding international treaties, and has repeatedly refused to address them.

 

Robinson: Governments Must Join With Companies to Foster Skilled Migration

USCIB CEO Peter Robinson at the March 26 international dialogue on migration at UN headquarters

Global skills mobility is integral to business and economic growth, with labor migration having contributed an estimated four percent to global economic output in recent years. That was one of the key messages delivered by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at a March 26 international dialogue on migration held at UN headquarters in New York.

Robinson represented both USCIB members and the International Organization of Employers, which alongside the World Economic Forum spearheads private-sector input to the inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and Development via a recognized “Business Mechanism.” He said companies know the value of skills mobility in their workplaces: fully 74 percent of corporate respondents in a recent survey by the Council for Global Migration reported that access to global skills is critical to attaining their business objectives.

By 2020, there is expected to be a worldwide shortfall of 38-40 million skilled workers, Robinson observed, and national migration systems need to adjust to address this need. Benefits of skilled migration accrue to both the countries receiving and sending migrants, he said. Many advanced economies are facing the labor impact of aging populations and falling birth rates, and must look abroad to fill worker shortages at all skill levels. And many countries rely on remittances from their citizens working abroad as well as the skills of returning migrants.

Companies operating at the global level are increasingly sensitive to potential abuses of migrant workers in their supply chains and are taking steps to address these, according to Robinson, who currently co-chairs the B20 Employment and Education Task Force. They are participating in an array of initiatives aimed at fostering fair and ethical recruitment, and are lending their expertise to helping national authorities better process immigrants and match employment opportunities with available workers.

Robinson underlined the commitment of business to this subject area and to the UN’s Global Compact on Migration. He urged governments and other stakeholders to partner with employers at the global and national levels to address the need for expanded skilled migration.

USCIB Participates in UN Meeting on Proposed Human Rights Treaty

Gabriella Rigg Herzog speaks on behalf of Employers at Human Rights meeting in Geneva

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog  traveled to Geneva last week to represent Employers at the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business entities with respect to human rights (IGWG). Chaired by Ecuador, the meeting followed two IGWG sessions in 2015 and 2016 which entailed general discussions on issues including the scope and applicability of a proposed binding instrument. This third meeting focused on a “Draft Elements” paper which was drafted by the Chair and served as a deliverable from the first two sessions.

As in previous sessions, business and key governments clearly stated their view that a treaty was unnecessary, and could risk distracting time and focus from the established global consensus surrounding the primacy of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as the authoritative global framework that sets out the roles for governments and business on protecting and respecting human rights, and the need for greater access to justice for victims of alleged corporate-related human rights abuse. Additionally, business and key governments stressed that focusing solely on transnational corporations was not appropriate, and that any future instrument should cover all business entities, in particular, national companies.

Herzog made two interventions during the proceedings, focusing on legal liability and on international cooperation. On legal liability, Herzog underscored that “States have the primary duty to develop strong national institutions, as well as promulgate and effectively enforce domestic laws covering ALL companies within its borders, regardless of whether they participate in global supply chains or not.” Given that, Herzog emphasized the need to “avoid creating a two-tiered compliance system, whereby individuals, communities or workers that suffer business-related alleged harms involving TNCs have greater protections, but the rest get lesser or diluted protections and remediation.”

On international cooperation, Herzog highlighted the power of peer pressure, and existing UN mechanisms that could be leveraged by governments to encourage other governments to fulfil their State duty to protect human rights  – including through the development of National Action Plans in accordance with the UNGPs. “Peer pressure between States can be realized under the existing architecture by better harnessing the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process.” said Herzog. “We understand that States are starting to receive more recommendations from other States on the topic of business and human rights. This process could be used to encourage more “national action plans” (NAPs) on business and human rights that take note of the guidance prepared by the UN Working Group.”

According to Herzog, NAPs have not had as much attention in this third session because there is no explicit reference to them in the “elements” paper. “This is a pity,” she said in her intervention. “Taking aside the critique that some existing plans could have included more focus on the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles, NAPs are a practical and useful tool.”

Herzog also emphasized in her comments that “international cooperation” is a broad topic that expands out beyond the specific discussions of this third session. The international business community is actively involved in a large number of initiatives on how to respond to social, labor and environmental challenges across the world, including the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Human rights are a central part, and the SDG agenda explicitly seeks to harness global partnerships and bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilize all available resources.

This third meeting concluded with some confusion over next steps, with the Chair expressing the position that its IGWG mandate would continue until a treaty was drafted and agreed. Other key parties, however, believe the Chair needs to seek a renewal of its 3-year mandate next summer from the Human Rights Council in order to proceed with a fourth meeting. USCIB will continue to monitor developments on this issue closely.

 

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.