Diversity in the Workplace Amid Topics at Annual Engaging Business Forum

USCIB co-organized the twelfth annual Engaging Business Forum on Human Rights on October 7, however due to COVID-19 precautions, the usual two-day forum was condensed into a virtual event. Hosted by The Coca-Cola Company every year since 2008, the Forum has gathered hundreds of practitioners to discuss leading issues at the intersection of business and human rights. Despite the virtual nature of the forum, this year was no different in terms of interest and engagement by over 500 leading practitioners.

With opening remarks from The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO James Quincy and a keynote address from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, as well as the International Labor Organization Director General Guy Ryder, participants were guided through a program that included discussion of the increasingly important role of business in respecting human rights as the world works towards a post-COVID-19 recovery that is sustainable for all. As in years past, USCIB led some of the discussions; USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog contributed her expertise on the panel “Diversity at the Workplace and Beyond – What Now Needs to Happen?”

“Diversity covers a range of factors, including age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, culture and disability,” said Herzog. “Our goal today is to explore the connection between diversity and business and human rights, as well as to bring heightened awareness of the critical role companies play in advancing progress.”

Herzog was joined on her panel by President and CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights Jill Savitt, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights Anita Ramasastry, Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy Cherie Blair and Global Chief Diversity Officer, The Coca-Cola Company Lori George Billingsley.

The Forum was co-organized by the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and hosted by The Coca-Cola Company.

ILO Reaches Ratification on Worst Forms of Child Labor

USCIB applauds the recent universal ratification by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. All 187 Member States of the ILO supported ratification. The Convention forms the basis for international action to eliminate child labor; its application assists governments globally in developing and adopting effective national laws and policies to eliminate child labor practices. The ILO works with employers, trade unions and governments globally to develop and adopt these standards as part of its unique tripartite approach to work issues.

Child labor has dropped forty percent between 2000 and 2016, but progress has slowed in recent years, particularly among children aged five to eleven and in some geographic locations. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic presents an additional risk to progress, potentially leading to the first increase in child labor for the first time in twenty years.

The United States, through the strenuous efforts of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), was an early and prolific supporter in the global efforts to eliminate child labor. DOL funding and collaboration has been central to the ILO’s work through the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, which has supported over 100 countries in their efforts to eliminate child labor, especially the worst forms.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder held a virtual ceremony on August 4 to mark the occasion.

USCIB Submits Comments on USMCA Labor Chapter to US Trade Representative

Following the entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has requested comments on the procedures for submissions alleging violations under the Labor Chapter. USCIB and its members have been vocal supporters of the inclusion of a Labor Chapter in the USMCA and its Annex which would increase protections for workers abroad, promote business continuity and encourage efficiency.

On August 14, USCIB submitted comments to USTR and  the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (Interagency Labor Committee) with recommendations, such as allowing USCIB to participate and provide information to the Committee as labor unions are invited to do. USCIB is the national employer body recognized by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The comments also called for greater elaboration of specific procedural provisions. “The interests of all stakeholders should be considered when carrying out labor-related mandates and due process needs to be safeguarded,” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility Gabriella Rigg Herzog. “We look forward to lending USCIB’s unique expertise in our continued work with USTR

USCIB Applauds USTR’s Announcement to Include Ed Potter in USMCA Labor Mechanism

Ed Potter addressing the ILO Conference in Geneva in 2015.

New York, NY, July 20, 2020: The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s recent announcement of a select panel for the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a key tool for the enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement.

“We welcome the inclusion of Ed Potter as one of the select panel members. Potter has worked extensively with USCIB for decades, most recently as former senior counsel for International Labor Affairs and prior to that as a chair of USCIB’s International Labor Affairs Committee (now the Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee). Potter is an International Advisory Council Member at the Institute for Human Rights and Business.  For over two decades, he participated on the ILO Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations that holds countries accountable for their obligations resulting from the ratification of ILO conventions.”

Potter is joined by Janice Bellace (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania), Lance Compa (Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations), Peter Hurtgen (Curley, Hurtgen & Johnsrud LLP), Ira Jaffe (Arbitrator and mediator for labor, employment and benefits disputes) and Kevin Kolben (Rutgers Business School).

The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a bilateral annex of the USMCA between the U.S. and Mexico, allows the U.S. to take expedited enforcement actions against individual factories in Mexico that fail to comply with domestic freedom of association and collective bargaining laws.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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.

USCIB Statement on Workplace Equality for All

June 30, 2020, New York, New York — As Pride Month 2020 draws to a close, USCIB joins in applauding the landmark decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court this month affirming that discrimination in the workplace against employees based on their gender identify or sexual orientation is not permissible under U.S. federal law. Discrimination – regardless of the form – has no place in our society or our workplaces. Through our role as the U.S. Employer representative at the International Labor Organization, USCIB has been a recognized champion of fundamental principles and rights at work, including non-discrimination in the workplace regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or national origin. This month’s decision reaffirms the rights and dignity of LGBT people and brings our nation one step closer towards the promise of equality for all.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

 

USCIB Joins With Global Community to Oppose Revision to ISO 26000

USCIB joined with several other U.S. business associations in opposing a recent proposal to revise ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility, develop implementation guidelines or standards and create a new Technical Committee (TC) on Social Responsibility.  After a five-year global negotiation, ISO 26000 was released in November of 2010 as a guidance document rather than a management systems for certification purposes and it remains a valuable resource for companies.

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog observed that the proposal currently before ISO would, “not only reverse the consensus achieved over the five year negotiation, but would also divert resources and away from ongoing implementation and innovation in the field of social responsibility.”

Global stakeholders who also opposed this proposal included leading human rights NGOs, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Moreover, and as was expressed by ILO Secretary-General Guy Ryder, adoption of this proposal would divert focus from and undermine universally accepted standards on human rights and labor issues, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ILO Conventions, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

USCIB continues to follow this matter and will be in communication with members and our global affiliates as this matter develops.

Robinson Featured in ILO’s “First Person: COVID-19 Stories” Series

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched a series of “First person: COVID-19 stories from the world of work,” collecting stories from around the globe and giving a voice to government officials, business owners and essential workers, those working from home and those who have lost their jobs, young people just entering the world of work and retirees-turned-volunteers.

Recently, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson gave an interview of how the pandemic has affected USCIB, how it is responding, lessons learned from the experience and how we will all be “confronting a new reality” rather than a “return to normal.”

“One major lesson of this pandemic is a reaffirmation that we are all global citizens and we are fighting against an enemy that knows no border, so we must ensure that we join hands across borders and work together in a multilateral way on an economic recovery that is inclusive,” said Robinson.

Robinson also discussed USCIB’s approaches in ensuring the safety of its employees, objectives to support USCIB’s international network (such as that of the International Organization of Employers), and engaging in global work in more vulnerable economies where livelihoods are being upended and where Small and Medium Enterprises deserve special attention.

To view Robinson’s video, click here.

To view the collection of stories compiled by the ILO, please visit here.

Robinson Shares US Perspective During Virtual Briefing on Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 With ILO Director General

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined International Organization of Employers (IOE) members from around the world in a virtual dialogue meeting with ILO Director General Guy Ryder. The April 30th briefing allowed for employers to gain better understanding of how the ILO is responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

According to the IOE, this briefing attracted 112 participants from across the world.

Robinson’s remarks included the state of the U.S. economic situation, which included somber statistics regarding U.S. GDP, which has contracted 4.8% in the first quarter of this year and U.S. unemployment claims as of April 30, which reached a total of over thirty million.

“The impacts in the U.S. are sadly not unique,” said Robinson. “Every IOE member on this call and every ILO member state has been similarly laid low – especially vulnerable economies already beset by existing challenges.”

“At USCIB we’re particularly concerned with the inadequacies of social protection systems worldwide, but especially in vulnerable economies, as well as lack of access for SMEs in those countries to capital to maintain their financial viability during this crisis,” added Robinson.

USCIB has raised this issue, and others, with the U.S. government.

“As we look to the future and recovery, let’s be bold,” urged Robinson. “We’re in the first year of the ILO’s second century and we are faced with an enormous challenge. Now, more than ever is the time to take clear and focused action together to harness the unique strength of the ILO and its tripartite constituency. Let’s find unity in purpose to support the ILO’s role in helping the world ‘build back better’ by focusing on core issues of shared priority – looking to the ILO Centenary Declaration as our guide. Count on USCIB, our members and the IOE as your committed partners for our recovery together.”

USCIB Works with UN, IOE to Host Virtual Dialogue on Public-Private Partnerships, SDG17

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), USCIB’s All In 2020 Campaign, Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) organized a “Virtual Dialogue on SDG-17 and Public-Private Partnerships: COVID-19 Response and Recovery in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda” on April 29.

The dialogue, initiated by USCIB, offered private sector ideas in lieu of ECOSOC rescheduling its Partnerships Forum in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers from business, academia and government highlighted areas in which partnerships with business can be catalyzed and scaled to tackle COVID-19 challenges while advancing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

USCIB Vice President of Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy moderated the virtual dialogue. “The wide-reaching impacts of COVID19 require integrated solutions and international cooperation – now is the time to advance substantive U.S. business engagement in inclusive multilateralism,” she said in her comments.

According to its Secretary General Roberto Suarez Santos, IOE has been actively responding to the pandemic and has organized multiple webinars and provided resources for employers across the globe understand and mitigate impacts of COVID-19. “The most important element of COVID-19 response by employers federations is what we do together with other government and worker partners. Because of this, SDG 17 is more relevant than ever,” said Santos.

Novozymes’ Senior Advisor of Public Affairs Justin Perrettson, who also serves as co-chair of the USCIB Environment Committee, explained that “international COVID-19 actions must strengthen and animate private-public partnerships, working in new ways and with new partners. To help overcome COVID-19, Novozymes has done everything from utilizing our products in COVID-19 diagnostic kits to helping the most vulnerable communities in healthcare, education and food.”

High-level speakers included:

  • H.E. Ambassador Munir Akram, vice president of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN
  • Elliott Harris, assistant secretary general and chief economist, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
  • Myriam Sidibe, Harvard fellow
  • Dr. Scott Ratzan, executive director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD), an initiative of The USCIB Foundation

A recording of the event can be found here.

Michener Shares USCIB’s COVID-19 Response with ICC Americas Group

At a recent virtual meeting of the ICC Americas group, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener discussed USCIB’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, which first and foremost, is to continue important functions as the entire USCIB team works from home in the New York and Washington metro areas.

“We are still representing member interests in multilateral institutions while highlighting individual company responses in tandem with international organizations, and featuring the important work of global affiliates such as International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), as well as the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (known as BIAC),” said Michener.

According to Michener, USCIB is also flexing its institutional muscle as a thought leader in the nexus between business and the multilateral system, publishing op-eds and press releases, and promoting partnerships with international organizations through its new venture Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD).

Michener outlined how USCIB is fulfilling its function in representing member interests through virtual events; all committee meetings have been converted into a virtual format and USCIB continues to engage with global partners on events, such as the one held on April 29 with the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs on SDG 17 & Public-Private Partnerships: COVID-19 Response & Recovery in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda.

“We are proud to share the work being done related to COVID-19 across the world by our global network of affiliates on our web page, in particular focusing on ICC’s partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the ICC campaign to Save our MSMEs and ICC actions via the G20,” added Michener.

USCIB continues to spotlight what member companies are doing to address the COVID-19 crisis; featured companies include ExxonMobil, Qualcomm, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SAP, Google, Amazon, Apple, CenturyLink, IBM, AT&T, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Mastercard, Salesforce, Microsoft and HanesBrand, with additional spotlights in the pipeline.

More information can be found on this web page: Ensuring Business Continuity During COVID-19