USCIB Participates in First-Ever Virtual ILO Labor Conference

The 109th International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) concluded in December 2021, and USCIB once again actively participated in negotiations as the U.S. Employer Representative. Of special note, USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg was elected and served as Vice President (Employers) of the conference. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog, and Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall also participated on behalf of business.

According to Herzog, the ILC is the leading global forum for discussion of key social and labor questions. Each year, Employer, Worker and Government delegates gather at the ILC to negotiate and to adopt international labor standards. Held virtually for the first time in the ILO’s 100+ year history, the 2021 ILC was conducted over two online sessions – one in May/June, and one in November/December. Due to the pandemic, the ILC was not held in 2021.

Among the outcomes across the two 2021 sessions, the ILO’s tripartite constituents adopted a Global Call for Action for a Human-Centered Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, an emergency resolution on the situation in Myanmar, a resolution concerning the second recurrent discussion on social protection (social security), and two sets of conclusions and reports on Skills and lifelong learning  and Inequalities and the world of work. This is in addition to regular proceedings, such as the Committee on Application of Standards and adopting the ILO’s program and budget.

“USCIB was gratified that the ILO was able to pivot and continue the important tradition of hosting the ILC, albeit virtually,” said Herzog, “and we look forward to the end of the pandemic and the safe return to in-person tripartite social dialogue at the ILC for the ILO and its 187 Member States.”

Wanner Makes Intervention at UN Meeting on Security and Use of ICTs

On occasion of the second meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on the Security of and Use of ICTs on December 16, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner delivered an intervention on behalf of stakeholders during a virtual stakeholder consultative discussion with the Chair of the Group, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor.

Wanner’s intervention highlighted many of the points that USCIB had already made in a letter that USCIB submitted to the Ambassador on December 9 prior to Wanner’s intervention, which was co-signed by 147 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, states and regional organizations as well as individuals. The letter expressed an overarching commitment to a successful OEWG process and a belief that it is likely to have a far-reaching impact on many stakeholders, including impacts on communities and individuals. The letter also emphasized the importance of an open, transparent and inclusive dialogue that would provide the basis for stakeholders to play a role in implementing the decisions and which would take into consideration their ability to participate and contribute to the outcome.

“We urge you to stay true to your commitment to continue to leverage the expertise of non-governmental stakeholders in a ‘systematic, sustained, and substantive manner’ in order to effectively build upon the work of the first OEWG,” said Wanner.

Wanner also stressed the need for transparency, both in terms of the development of texts, and the accreditation process for non-governmental stakeholder participation. She also emphasized the need to continue using a hybrid format for meetings to facilitate the participation of delegates and stakeholders who cannot travel to New York.

“This approach will remain critical as we continue to battle the global pandemic. It also will enable full transparency of the proceedings as mentioned previously,” she added.

USCIB Members Honored With Corporate Startup Stars Awards; Pfizer Earns 2021 Grand Winner

On occasion of the annual Corporate Startup Stars Awards, startups were asked to nominate corporates most active in open innovation. Launched by Mind the Bridge under the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative in 2016, the Awards have been scaled globally by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

One company that has consistently pursued Open Innovation with Purpose and involving all nations, all genders, all generations is the 2021 Grand Winner, USCIB member Pfizer.

Pfizer’s partnership with startup BioNTech epitomizes this by crossing national, generational and gender borders to come together and help the world with its COVID-19 vaccine.

Along with Pfizer, other USCIB member companies named in the 2021 Top 25 Corporate Startup Stars are: AB InBev, BP, Mastercard and SAP. 

The 25 companies awarded in the “Open Innovation Challengers” category include USCIB members Bayer AG, Boeing and Hewlett Packard.

Regional Awards go to Mastercard (North America).

Special awards for seven categories single out approaches and best practices that merit recognition:

  • Startup Procurement Award
    AB Inbev
  • Corporate Startup Accelerator Award
    Mastercard and SAP
  • Startup Investment Award
    AEI HorizonX (Boeing)

During the Awards Ceremony, Mind the Bridge presented key evidence emerging from its Report “Evolve or Be Extinct. Future Models of Open Innovation from the 2021 Global Corporate Startup Stars” that analyses how Fortune 500/Forbes 2000 companies interact with startups and scaleups at global level.

Download the Mind the Bridge report Report “Evolve or Be Extinct, Future Models of Open Innovation from the 2021 Global Corporate Startup Stars.

See here for the full story on ICC’s website.

Mastercard Wins Coveted State Department “ACE” Corporate Excellence Award for 2021

In a virtual ceremony on December 8, Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced the U.S. company winners of the Department’s 2021 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE). For the sixteenth time in the twenty-two years that the ACE award has been presented, a USCIB member company is among the winners.

This year, Mastercard received the ACE award in the multinational company category for “Economic Inclusion,” recognizing its path-breaking work in India to expand financial services to under-banked communities. Mastercard and the U.S. company winners in other categories were honored for their contribution to economic and social progress around the world and the advancement of American values. Secretary Blinken, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires in India, and senior State Department economic officials participated in the virtual ceremony.

Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach accepted the award on behalf for the entire Mastercard team and delivered brief remarks. The State Department website includes details on the award and video link to the ceremony. Mastercard’s public statement also includes interesting details.

In the twenty-two years the State Department has been presenting the ACE Award, sixteen times at least one USCIB member company has been honored. Last year The Coco-Cola Company was a winner for its impressive efforts for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Azerbaijan. In 2019, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble were among the winners.

“We are delighted that again this year, the State Department’s coveted ACE award winners include a great USCIB member company,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robionson. “This is not a coincidence. USCIB members are widely recognized here at home and around the world not only as successful business and leaders in their respective sectors but also as representing the best of American business and our ability to spread American values of inclusion, respect, enlightened personnel policies, investing in employees and communities and responsible stewardship of the environment.  We congratulate and commend Mastercard on its imprssive effots in India and beyond and welcome them to a very impressive club of USCIB member winners of the ACE Award.”

USCIB Statement on the Summit for Democracy

Washington D.C., December 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the recent Summit for Democracy and reaffirms our long-standing support for the critical importance of democracy and rule of law as foundational pillars of well-functioning and inclusive societies.

We agree, as the Biden Administration rightly stated, “that both history and overwhelming data show that societies that respect and defend democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and gender equality are more stable, prosperous, secure and better equipped to confront global challenges.”

“Businesses are key actors in democratic societies, contributing to civic and economic empowerment of people and public institutions, while advancing growth and equality,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Importantly, business and employer membership organizations are themselves democratic institutions and a core part of the fabric of democratic societies.”

USCIB advocates for good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption and anti-bribery frameworks and other measures of responsible governance, as being among the required elements of the enabling environments for trade and investment that bring growth and opportunity. Indeed, UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” makes clear the key role that governance and the rule of law play in promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies and in ensuring sustainable development.

As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of CommerceBusiness at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers, USCIB joins with global business and employer peers in advocating these policies in international policy fora, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations. As an example, we note in particular USCIB’s engagement through BIAC to support the recent successful launch of the OECD Public Integrity Indicators Portal and the 2021 Recommendation for Further Combatting Bribery of Foreign Officials.

Finally, USCIB and its members reiterate their firm belief that alongside national rule of law and good governance, based on democratic principles, multilateral cooperation is the single most powerful vehicle to achieve an inclusive and sustainable path to dealing with the enormity of the challenges facing society today. Business is a necessary voice in that effort, and USCIB will continue our work to engage meaningfully and constructively as a leading actor at home and within the multilateral organizational system to advance democratic principles and rule of law.

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Commemorates Human Rights Day and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

USCIB dedicates its 2021 Human Rights Day statement to the memory of Professor John Ruggie, a human rights champion and visionary behind the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

New York, N.Y., December 10, 2021 — On the occasion of Human Rights Day today, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued the following statement:

USCIB joins with the global community today in commemorating the seventy-third Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which clarifies the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to, as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Human rights protections extend to LGBTIQ people too.

Human rights remain a timeless priority and USCIB especially welcomes the theme chosen for 2021: Equality – Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights. Article 1 of the UDHR states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Yet, in far too many places in the world, discrimination and inequality persists and hinders individuals from full and equal participation in society. Fighting discrimination and inequality requires redoubling our shared efforts to tackle challenges like deep-rooted forms of discrimination which continue to affect the most vulnerable people in our societies.

We all have a role to play in advancing equality and human rights, and for companies this includes undertaking responsible business practices and working to demonstrate their corporate responsibility to respect human rights as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As we look ahead to the New Year and continued progress towards recovery, USCIB looks forward with optimism for our shared priority – in collaboration with governments, business and civil society – to advance human rights, non-discrimination, prosperity, and inclusion 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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Advocates Strong Investment Policies at OECD Investment Committee Sessions

USCIB and its international affiliate partners through Business at OECD (BIAC) remain on the front lines, defending solid, pro-investment policies at multilateral fora this fall.  

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson participated in the UN Committee on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) seventh World Investment Forum (WIF) as part of the Global Leader’s Investment Summit on October 19. “Now more than ever, it is important for international organizations like the UN and its member governments to provide the necessary welcoming environment for foreign direct investment in quality industry and infrastructure projects that help with pandemic relief and sustainable economic growth,” said Robinson. Otherwise, the pandemic exacerbated investment gap will persist with the developing world most at risk.”   

Robinson also called for a strong and sustained role for industry, as a key stakeholder, in the discussion on investment at UNCTAD, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the OECD or elsewhere. His remarks were echoed by other industry representatives and welcomed by some developing countries like Egypt. Opposing views were led by development economist Jeffrey Sachs and countries like Pakistan that would like to see radical reform of the investor state dispute settlement mechanism and reduction or elimination of protections for foreign investors.   

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was a lead private sector speaker at a parallel “experts meeting on International Investment Agreements in the same virtual UNCTAD World Investment Forum week. Donnelly forcefully defended investor protections, including a strong Investor-State Dispute settlement System (“ISDS”) as necessary protection against host government discriminatory or unfair treatment of foreign investors.  

There was discussion at WIF of establishing a multi-stakeholder “World Investment for Development Alliance” to facilitate greater collaboration between intergovernmental organizations, business entities, academic initiatives and civil society groups and to develop enabling frameworks to address international investment and sustainable development outcomes. USCIB will follow this proposal closely to ensure our active participation.

Donnelly and BIAC Investment Committee Chair Winand Quaedvlieg (Netherlands) led BIAC’s participation in the OECD Investment Committee’s semi-annual fall meetings. In a free-wheeling brainstorming session on investment treaties on October 28, Donnelly made a major intervention that a government’s right to regulate is not a right to discriminate or abuse investors, to be arbitrary or to be non-transparent.  He pointed out that “policy space” promoted by some governments and NGO participants should not translate into a “carte blanche” for governments to treat investors badly.  But unfortunately, according to Donnelly, some governments continue to do just that, underscoring the need for strong investor protections.   

Donnelly also joined Chairman Quaedvlieg on October 27 at a formal “stakeholder consultation” with the OECD Investment Committee leadership.  That session, where BIAC joins with labor union representatives from the Trade Union Advisory Council (TUAC) as well as civil society group OECD Watch, was an opportunity for each of the stakeholders to lay down priorities and basic positions on future work in the OECD Investment Committee.   

Donnelly and USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, remained engaged this fall in informal consultations with U.S. government leaders to press the importance of investor state dispute settlement and positive Biden Administration messaging on the investment climate. The messages built on the above, encouraging conducive taxation frameworks, facilitation of administrative procedures, complementary public investments in modern infrastructure and the right mind- and skill sets, and sound investment protection and general predictability. 

Finally of note, USCIB continues to work with BIAC to share business views with respect to development of the OECD Foreign Direct Investment Qualities toolkit, designed to help policymakers create an enabling environment for attracting Foreign Direct Investment that safeguards key sustainability goals: productivity and innovation; employment, job quality and skills; gender equality; and, low-carbon transition. The toolkit is earmarked as a key deliverable for next fall’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting. 

According to Clark, “All of these interventions provided a great opportunity for USCIB to remind government officials at the national and international level of the importance of foreign direct investment to economic development, recovery and sustainability, particularly in the face of a pandemic induced downturn.  As such, we must continue to maintain strong investor protections in international investment agreements.”   

Herzog Joins Sweden Foreign Minister Linde in Discussing Women’s Economic Empowerment

Gabriella Rigg Herzog

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog joined a panel discussion organized jointly by the government of Sweden and the International Labor Organization (ILO) titled, “Women’s Empowerment and Worker Rights in a Post-Pandemic World” on November 12.

Moderated by The American Prospect Editor-at-Large Harold Meyerson, the event included other speakers such as Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, AFL-CIO International Department Director Catherine Feingold and U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Undersecretary for the Bureau for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee.

In her remarks, Herzog joined with other panelists in raising concerns over the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women, and the risk of backsliding on the gains made to date for women’s economic empowerment in the workplace. The conversation also turned to the issue of global supply chains and their possible role in advancing good practices regarding women’s rights and worker rights. In responding, Herzog noted many positive company efforts, and underscored the irreplaceable need at national levels for good governance, rule of law and effective enforcement of laws that meet international standards.

On the latter point, Herzog shared examples of discriminatory legislation in far too many jurisdictions holding women back. “Removing legal restrictions that hinder women from participating in the formal labor market and having formal self-employment opportunities such as proper access to finance for female entrepreneurs is key to addressing inequalities,” Herzog emphasized, noting the importance of joint efforts by governments, employers and workers to tackle shared challenges and priorities.

In terms of concrete policy recommendations, Herzog noted those put forward on October 7, 2021 in the “B20 – Special Initiative on Women Empowerment” policy paper, such as eliminating legal and cultural barriers to paid work and actively upskilling female workers.

Additionally, Herzog highlighted the key role employer organizations play as democratic institutions supporting small and medium sized businesses – especially at national levels –with training, tools and peer-exchanges on how to promote and advocate for gender equality and diversity at the workplace.

Herzog Moderates Session at Second UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog joined Sophia Areias of the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, in moderating a session on November 11 during the second  UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to Herzog, the session focused on the increasing number of mandatory human rights due diligence laws from around the world, and what they mean for businesses in the region, as well as offered practical insights for local businesses on how to prepare for the changing legal landscape.

Herzog spoke in her capacity as chair of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) Policy Working Group on Human Rights and Responsible Business Conduct. During the session, she emphasized that in this past year alone, Switzerland, Germany and Norway adopted mandatory due diligence legislation and that the EU Commission is poised to publish its proposal for an EU directive on mandatory due diligence this December.

“While many of the companies listening in from the region may not be directly covered by the new legislation because you are not based in the EU,” Herzog said, “nevertheless, it may affect you because the companies that are within scope of the legislation source from this region and will require stronger efforts from their suppliers with regards to responsible business practices.”

The session featured two panels – one with company presentations from Norsk Hydro and JTI discussing their firms’ responsible sourcing policies and practices, and a second including presentations from two employer federations from North Macedonia and Georgia, that spoke about their work and how they inform and support their member companies on emerging regulatory developments and best practices.

Donnelly Selected for America250, a Multi-Year Commemoration of America’s 250th Anniversary

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly has been selected for a role in the prestigious ‘America250,’ a multi-year commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States of America that peaks on July 4, 2026. America250 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deepen understanding of America’s complicated past and ignite shared optimism for our future through engaging programs and experiences.

According to a press release from October 15, America250 is led by the Congressionally-established U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which has established eleven Advisory Councils across a variety of industries and specialties to increase inclusiveness, expand America250’s capacity and connection to partners and stakeholders, and facilitate program development, implementation and social impact.

“We are excited to introduce our 11 Advisory Councils as we seek to connect with millions of Americans on our journey to 2026,” said Dr. Carleen Carey, director of Public Outreach and Inclusion at America250. “Each council is composed of industry luminaries and leading experts in their respective fields who are empowered by America250’s mission and values. We look forward to the thoughtful contributions they will bring to this commemoration to ensure we are capturing the many voices of Americans.”

Donnelly, a now-retired USCIB vice president for International Investment Policy after a long career as a U.S. Government diplomat, Ambassador and trade negotiator, was named as one of thirteen members of the International Advisory Council. Other Advisory Councils include Arts and Culture, Innovation, Science and Entrepreneurship, Youth Engagement, History Education, and Health and other.

Visit america250.org/about to see the full list of industry leaders behind this commemoration.