USCIB Celebrates International Human Rights Day

December 10th is known internationally as Human Rights Day, and marks the 71st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. USCIB joins the UN in celebrating Human Rights Day and all of the work being done by its members to promote respect for human rights in global business.

“USCIB and our members are committed to demonstrating respect for human rights in our operations and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs). In 2019 we led or participated in a number of activities promoting the importance of human rights, as well as took bold and innovative action individually and in collaboration with stakeholders to support the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog.

“This year we proudly became a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Global Business Network on Forced Labor, co-hosted a workshop on sports and human rights and the 11th Engaging Business Forum on business & human rights, were honored to host UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for a dialogue with our members, and helped to successfully negotiate a first ever ILO labor standard (C 190) on violence and harassment in the workplace. At the ILO, we stood up to fight for the rights of LGBTQI individuals to also be recognized in ILO labor standards, and at the UN joined with civil society organizations and government at the 8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights for a progress check on implementing the UNGPs. USCIB and our network of member companies look forward to another year of partnership, advocacy and action on human rights and business,” added Herzog.

USCIB Attends UN Biodiversity Deliberations as Accredited Organization

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) has just concluded a scientific and technical round of deliberations, held from November 25 – 29. USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy attended the meetings in Montreal, representing USCIB as an accredited business organization, and as the only U.S. private sector group on hand for the session.

The UN CBD is currently developing a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be finalized in October 2020 at its 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15), which will be hosted by China. According to Kennedy, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will be a comprehensive agreement that will include new targets relating to the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Montreal CBD meeting reviewed a wide range of topics including scientific assessments of biodiversity and ecosystems, Digital Sequencing Information (DSI), links between climate change and biodiversity, as well as emerging issues.

USCIB is re-engaging in the UN CBD process following discussions in USCIB’s newly launched Biodiversity Working Group, working closely with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group and the Global Industry Coalition (GIC).

Following the meeting in Montreal, Kennedy stated that, “Since the U.S. has never signed the UN CBD or its Protocols on Bio-safety and on Access and Benefit Sharing, USCIB is currently assessing potential impacts and opportunities for its members while tracking the process leading up to COP15.”

Trade Conference Focuses on Inclusive Global Economy

Amid backlash to increased international trade and rising populism and protectionism across the globe, the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB) held a conference on December 3 in London entitled Next Generation Trade: Building a Principled, People-Centred Global Economy. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog and Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl represented USCIB.

The conference focused on the issue of building a principled, people-centered global economy, and highlighted issues including climate, the future of work, the multilateral trading system, inclusive trade, and data and technology.

USCIB is very active in the space of trade and investment, as well as corporate responsibility and business and human rights.

“With an increasing public focus on international trade, it is imperative for the business voice to be heard in a variety of fora, emphasizing the message that trade and investment are vital contributors to economic growth and development,” said Hampl.

USCIB continues to believe that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a pillar of the multilateral trading system and that the value of this trade institution cannot be overstated, and its continued existence is critical.

8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights

8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights

November 25-27, 2019

Geneva, Switzerland

This years UN Annual forum on Business and Human Rights will have the theme of: “Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights.”

The UN annual Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper to practice. As the world’s foremost gathering in this area, it provides a unique space for dialogue between governments, business, civil society, affected groups and international organizations on trends, challenges and good practices in preventing and addressing business-related human rights impacts. The first Forum was held in 2012. It attracts more than 2,000 experts, practitioners and leaders for three days of an action- and solution-oriented dialogue.

The Forum was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011  “to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices” (resolution 17/4, paragraph 12).

The Forum addresses all three pillars of the Guiding Principles:

  • The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication;
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts with which a business is involved; and
  • The need for access to effective remedy for rights-holders when abuse has occurred, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

The Forum is guided and chaired by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and organized by its Secretariat at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Contact Daniella Goncalves for more information: dgoncalves@uscib.org.

BSR Conference 2019

BSR Conference 2019

November 12 – 14, 2019

San Jose, California

The annual BSR Conference is one of the longest-running and most well-regarded sustainability conferences, providing a space for thought-provoking conversations to identify solutions to the most complex global challenges. The Conference convenes more than 800 participants from around the world, including senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and governments.

For more information contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org).

P&G, Pepsi Receive Prestigious State Department ACE Awards

P&G’s Selina Jackson accepts ACE Award for Women’s Economic Engagement

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented the State Department’s annual Awards for Corporate Excellence (ACE Awards) for 2019 at an impressive public ceremony at the Department on October 31. As in most years, USCIB member companies swept the large multinational company categories.

Procter & Gamble Vice President of Global Government Relations and Public Policy Selina Jackson accepted the ACE Award for Women’s Economic Empowerment on behalf of P&G Asia Pacific for its impressive program to develop and promote women executives and managers through that key region.

PepsiCo’s Phil Myers accepts ACE Award for Sustainable Operations

PepsiCo Senior Vice President, Global Government Affairs and Public Policy, Phil Myers accepted the ACE for Sustainable Operations on behalf of PepsiCo India, recognizing its path-breaking work on water conservation and quality in India. Both recipients, as well as the winners in the parallel Small and Medium Enterprise categories, delivered gracious remarks to the crowd of U.S. government officials, foreign diplomats and business leaders.

PepsiCo and P&G were selected from impressive cohorts of nominations by U.S. Ambassadors around the world, each nominating particularly outstanding corporate citizens in the local U.S. business community.  P&G is a repeat winner, having won a 2011 ACE for its work in Nigeria and Pakistan. USCIB Vice President and former U.S. Ambassador Shaun Donnelly represented USCIB at the ceremony and congratulated USCIB member company winners.

“It seems almost every year, USCIB member companies win one or both of these prestigious ACE Awards,” Donnelly said.  “Our member companies, typified by P&G and PepsiCo, are widely recognized as leaders in all areas or corporate responsibility and sustainability in a wide range of foreign countries, developed and developing, including in some very challenging environments. We are very proud to see them recognized.”

For a list of previous ACE Award winners, see here.

 

USCIB Joins Global Business Network on Forced Labor

USCIB proudly became a new member recently of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Business Network on Forced Labour (GBNFL). A “network of networks,” GBNFL seeks to bring together businesses of all sizes and sectors, and their networks, from around the globe to work towards the eradication of forced labor. USCIB Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog attended GBNFL’s first annual meeting on October 21 in Berlin, where participants engaged in discussions around what coordination and collaboration looks like, as well as how best to engage smaller enterprises to combat forced labor.

In brainstorming about opportunities for shared action provided by this new umbrella network, participants recognized that many of the challenges stem from local governance gaps. Participants discussed ideas and noted the critical role that the ILO can play in assisting national and local governments to mount a robust domestic labor law enforcement response to this issue. Additionally, participants expressed a hope that additional employer organizations from developing countries would be encouraged to join the GBNFL, particularly as the members of those employer networks are the local businesses and SMEs producing for either domestic or foreign markets. Participants agreed that capacity building, both of governments and SMEs, is crucial to any plan to help achieve SDG target 8.7.

USCIB members will benefit from our active involvement in GBNFL through invitations to participate in special events and webinars hosted by GBNFL, as well as have the opportunity to help inform the USCIB feedback to GBNFL as its leaders develop future workplans. For the broader public, we encourage you to learn more about the GBNFL and avail yourself of the data, tools and resources regarding forced labor and human trafficking housed on GBNFL’s new website and public library of selected resources.

USCIB Issues Climate Change Statement on UN Day

In light of the United Nations celebrating the ratification of its 1945 Charter on October 24, USCIB issued the following statement:

“On this UN Day, USCIB would like to join others in recognizing the indispensable importance of the UN system to American business in advancing international cooperation and providing the infrastructure in which we create shared value and serve society.

USCIB reaffirms our support for U.S. involvement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Accord. We welcome the growth of the American energy economy from fossil fuels to nuclear to renewables to new options for energy efficiency. The Paris Accord allows every country to define its own pathway to tackling climate risks, and the U.S. has already made good progress on that front, reducing emissions and improving efficiency while advancing its own energy security, growing U.S. jobs and opening new markets for innovative American technologies.

Without U.S. leadership at the Paris Accord table, promoting its strategic and economic interests alongside other countries, opportunities for the deployment of these American private sector solutions could be threatened. We encourage the Administration to revisit its decision and submit, as appropriate, its own visionary plan to the UNFCCC and Paris Accord, in which American energy objectives can co-exist with environmental protection, private sector innovation and sustainably meeting both American and global growing energy demands.”

USCIB Members Win Prestigious State Department ACE Award

The U.S. Department of State has announced the four winning U.S. companies for the 2019 Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence (“ACE Award”) and, again this year, USCIB member companies are well represented. The two awards open to large multinational companies are both going to USCIB members – Procter & Gamble Asia Pacific wins the ACE for women’s economic empowerment for its gender equality leadership across the Asia Pacific region while PepsiCo in India is recognized for sustainable operations from their community water programs, which focus on water replenishment and water conservation in agricultural practices. P&G is a repeat winner, having won in 2011 for its work in Nigeria and Pakistan.

Nearly every year, one or more USCIB members are among the very select group of winners recognized by the Department of State for exemplary corporate responsibility around the world. Nominations are invited every year from U.S. ambassadors on the ground in each foreign country. These senior U.S. government officials have a keen understanding of the local impact these companies have and the exemplary work they are doing in specific international markets.

The awards will be presented by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to senior executives from each company in a ceremony at the State Department on October 31. Details on the winning company efforts are included in this State Department news release.

USCIB salutes its member company winners this year. “It seems every year one or more USCIB member companies end up winning the prestigious State Department ACE awards,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “I’m not surprised since our members are widely recognized among the most progressive, most socially responsible companies in the world. P&G and Pepsi are among our star members, exemplifying all that’s good in the broad areas of corporate responsibility, including sustainability, women’s empowerment, community development, and investing in their employees around the world. When leading U.S. companies trade, invest, and get involved overseas, they bring not only their commercial, economic and technical expertise and their market power; they also bring their values, including corporate responsibility and ethical behavior. I salute Pepsi and P&G as winners this year as I have other member companies in previous years. These award winning companies do us at USCIB and our country proud.”

Pledge to America’s Workers: Spotlight on Amazon

Photo credit: Amazon

Following the announcement of the U.S. Department of Labor’s 5th annual National Apprenticeship Week running November 11-17, USCIB is showcasing the positive impact apprenticeship programs have in addressing the U.S. skills gap and preparing the American workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Each week, USCIB is featuring case studies of members that are making an impact in re-skilling and re-training the workforce as part of the White House Pledge to America’s Workers.

USCIB member Amazon has created a 2025 pledge to upskill 100,000 of its employees across the United States. To accomplish this, Amazon has dedicated over $700 million to provide people across its corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores and transportation network with access to training programs that will help employees move into more highly skilled roles within or outside of Amazon.

Amazon has both created and expanded a broad range of training programs based on the insights provided to them by their workforce, including:

The Amazon Technical Academy which offers tuition-free programs and job placement for employees who want to move into the software engineering field. The Amazon Technical Academy combines instructor-led, project-based learning with real-world application, and graduates of the program master the most widely used software engineering practices and tools required to thrive as a software engineer at Amazon. For more information on this program click more here.

Amazon’s Associate2Tech program, is a fully-paid 90-day program that provides fulfillment center associates with the opportunity to move into technical roles, regardless of their previous IT experience. Associate2Tech is designed to place associates in on-the-job training for IT support technician roles and pays for their widely recognized A+ Certification test. No existing degree is needed, and participants receive paid study time during their work week. To learn more about this initiative click here.

The Machine Learning University (MLU) is an initiative helping Amazon employees with backgrounds in technology and coding gain skills in Machine Learning. Machine learning plays an increasingly important role in customer innovation. MLU helps employees learn core skills to propel their career growth – skills that are often taught only in higher education. MLU is divided into six-week modules and the program requires only half to one full day of participation a week. MLU is taught by more than 400 passionate Amazon Machine Learning scientists. Originally launched as a small cohort, the program is on course to train thousands of employees.

In another example, Amazon’s Growing Career Choice program is a pre-paid tuition program for fulfillment center associates looking to move into high-demand occupations. Specifically, Amazon has agreed to pay up to 95% of tuition and fees towards a certificate or diploma in qualified fields of study. Since launching Career Choice in 2012, over 25,000 Amazon employees have received training for high-demand occupations that include aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies and nursing. The company is investing in expanding the program by building additional classrooms in its fulfillment centers globally and expects to have over sixty on-site classrooms by the end of 2020.

Another exciting program is Amazon Apprenticeship, which is a Department of Labor certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon. This opportunity is a combination of immersive learning and on-the-job training. The program has already created paths to technical jobs for hundreds of candidates who are working to break into careers that include cloud support associates, data technicians and software development engineering.

Finally, AWS Training and Certification works on closing the cloud skills gap in the tech industry. Amazon employees have access to free classroom and digital training to build their cloud computing knowledge, as well as discounted AWS Certification exams to validate their learned cloud expertise. Cultivating these in-demand skills opens opportunities both within Amazon and in other organizations around the world as demand for cloud talent continues to grow.

See here for other spotlights:

IBM

Salesforce

Walmart