Educate to Vaccinate Event Promotes COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

Anuradha Gupta of Gavi

Following the launch of The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative and the initiative’s COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge, the group held its first major event “Educate to Vaccinate: The Role of Employers” on April 29. The event brought together global public health and business experts, small and medium companies from around the globe, international employer organizations, and other stakeholders, to discuss actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption and the vital role employers can play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and motivating – not mandating – the workforce to get vaccinated.

“What better example of the transformative power of science, policy, business and society working together than the response to the pandemic,” said USCIB Executive Vice President Abby Shapiro, who leads BP2C. “Working with three of the world’s largest business networks including the ICC, IOE and Business at OECD to mobilize their business networks, BP2C will reach millions of workers with information and tools to combat misinformation and inspire confidence in vaccination. Keeping employees safe is not only the right thing to do, but also the way forward to a healthy, vaccine-literate workforce.”

Notable speakers at the “Educate to Vaccinate” event included GAVI Deputy Chief Executive Anuradha Gupta, Meredith Flynn-Ripley (Salesforce), Dr. Vicki Weldon (ExxonMobil), Julia Spencer (MSD), as well as public health experts: Larry Gostin (Georgetown University), Heidi Larson (The Vaccine Confidence Project and the CONVINCE initiative), Dr. Scott Ratzan (CUNY School of Public Health and BP2C), and Nancy Lee (Global Health and CONVINCE). Senior international business network representatives included Ali Karami-Ruiz from Business at OECD, Roberto Suárez Santos of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Andrew Wilson from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Participants also heard from companies and organizations across the globe that have already signed up to take the Workplace Challenge including Randstad North America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Staffing Association, and dozens of other companies and organizations around the globe.

“We encourage everyone to take the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to educating their employees,” added Shapiro.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now for The Workplace Challenge!

Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) is the private sector arm of the global, multisector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

USCIB Joins COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

In advance of World Immunization Week later this month, USCIB has announced on April 6 that it has taken the “COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge”—a commitment by companies to listen to employees’ needs and concerns about COVID-19 and encourage vaccine confidence and uptake.

The “Workplace Challenge” was launched this spring by Business Partners to CONVINCE, a multi-sector effort to empower a “vaccine-literate” public, based on trust in science and aligned commitment to future COVID-19 vaccines and other novel countermeasures.

“Business can play a pivotal role in addressing vaccine hesitancy with its extensive reach and the high level of trust imbued in employers by their employees,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “I encourage other companies and organizations around the globe to join the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to make their workplaces safer and provide up-to-date information from health professionals to follow the science.

By joining the Workplace Challenge, USCIB agrees to:

  • Listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19
  • Follow the latest public health guidance to protect myself, my employees, my workplace, my customers, and my community from COVID-19
  • Promote vaccine literacy based on the latest scientific evidence of vaccination benefits and risks
  • Encourage vaccine confidence and uptake
  • Advocate for accessible, equitable, and timely vaccination of employees
  • Engage with communities, schools, faith-based organizations and public health leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19

For more information on Business Partners to CONVINCE or to join the Workplace Challenge, please visit: www.businesspartners2convince.org.

In Statement on International Women’s Day, USCIB Recognizes Setbacks Women Face Due to COVID-19

New York, N.Y., March 08, 2021 — On this year’s International Women’s Day, USCIB joins the global community in recognizing the critical contributions of women in responding to, and recovering from, the COVID-19 pandemic — often at the cost of hard-fought gains in equality and economic empowerment. Our task going forward is to ensure that these gains are recovered and that progress continues.

USCIB and its members have long championed the critical role of women’s education, employment and entrepreneurship for their own and their families’ health and well-being, as well as for the health and competitiveness of the societies and economies in which we live and do business. The United Nations report on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Women ” highlights the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on women and girls and rightly stresses that we must keep this disparity in mind, as well as be purposeful in championing women as we undertake the task of rebuilding our economies. This shared task confronts governments, business and civil society alike.

Through our engagement in the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), we will continue to work with our business counterparts around the world to address the barriers that continue to confront women and girls and to advance the opportunities that will allow them to thrive and our enterprises to prosper.

Please visit the UN Women’s page for International Women’s Day 2021 “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” for statements, stories and updates.

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, the International Organization of Employers 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.

Robinson Welcomes COVID-19 Vaccine Collaboration Between Merck, Johnson & Johnson

New York, N.Y., March 03, 2021Peter Robinson, president and chief executive of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, released a statement today in reaction to President Joe Biden’s announcement on March 2 that Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine:

“We at USCIB commend our member companies J&J and Merck for collaborating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership between these two companies and the commitment of their CEOs, both of which are USCIB Trustees, brings us a great amount of pride and excitement. Over the years, our motto at USCIB has been ‘Global Business Leadership At Work’ and we are pleased that our member companies have been demonstrating that and leading by example.

“The USCIB Foundation meanwhile is also building momentum on our most recent initiative – Business Partners to CONVINCE – a global, multi-sector effort to empower a ‘vaccine-literate’ public, led by employers as trusted messengers to their employees and based on trust in science and aligned commitment to future COVID-19 vaccines and other novel countermeasures.”

USCIB Informs EU With Comments on Sustainable Corporate Governance

As part of the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s (EU) Communication on the (COVID-19) Recovery Plan, the EU has invited stakeholder comments during a public consultation to inform consideration of a possible EU Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative. USCIB has submitted its comments on February 9, drawing on the expertise of its Committees on Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs and Environment.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy, Norine Kennedy, the consultation took the form of an online questionnaire, seeking feedback on numerous elements of ESG, and exploring what form an EU-wide framework to promote due diligence, board of directors’ duty of care and stakeholder engagement should take. 

USCIB comments highlighted the fundamental importance of the UN Guiding Principles.  USCIB set out U.S. business concerns about any promulgation of rigid approaches, such as the application of tariffs, sanctions or import restrictions that rightly seek to address human rights or labor rights concerns but – due to their rigidity – inadvertently create a disincentive for long-term supply chain engagement, the use in accordance with the UNGPs of leverage in company supply and value chains, and sustainable remediation.  

“We would welcome an EU approach to these issues that would include sustainability risks, impacts and opportunities into corporate strategy and decisions, as many companies already have,” added Kennedy. “However general principles would be preferable over rigid legal requirements. Flexibility afforded to each company to decide how to include such considerations would be crucial for such general principles to be effective.”

USCIB also encouraged the EU to pursue a fuller holistic dialogue with business and other stakeholders on how to advance sustainable corporate governance in environmental and social areas.

“We support the role business can and should play in respecting human rights” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog.  “We strongly encourage the EU to gather business and other stakeholder views through actual dialogue and consultation, with due attention to context, such as ongoing impacts and burdens on companies because of the pandemic’s economic disruption and ongoing constraints, as well as existing business initiatives and systems.”

USCIB will continue to follow and stay in close contact with U.S. government and EU authorities as these deliberations go forward.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE Launch COVID-19 Challenge

In a recent press release, The USCIB Foundation, the education and research arm of USCIB, announced that its Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative has launched a ‘Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge,’ inviting companies and organizations around the world to listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19 and encourage vaccine confidence and uptake, among other things.

TheBP2C initiative is the private sector arm of the global, multi-sector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement)initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

Members of the BP2C Steering Team, which includes global organizations such as Business Fights Poverty, Business at OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the International Organization of Employers, jointly agreed to develop vaccine literacy strategies based on science, facts and emerging information to counter hesitation and vaccination opponents through communication and education initiatives at the global, national and local levels.

Companies joining the Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge agree to do the following:

  • Listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19
  • Follow the latest public health guidance to protect myself, my employees, my workplace, my customers, and my community from COVID-19
  • Promote vaccine literacy based on the latest scientific evidence of vaccination benefits and risks
  • Encourage vaccine confidence and uptake
  • Advocate for accessible, equitable, and timely vaccination of employees
  • Engage with communities, schools, faith-based organizations and public health leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19

“BP2C is developing a ‘toolkit’ of activities to help businesses address the COVID-19 Challenge,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Research has shown that businesses are a trusted source of information, and are well suited to engage, inform and educate workers, their families and communities with messages that inspire confidence in vaccination and encourage acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Scott Ratzan MD, executive director of BP2C and co-founder of CONVINCE, stated: “The potential for business to engage meaningfully in the growing international movement to address COVID with evidence-based vaccine literacy strategies is massive. Employers have the trust, respect and reach to support vaccine confidence with communication and education initiatives at the global, national and local levels.”

BP2C Steering Committee member Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project and co-founder of CONVINCE added that: “The COVID-19 pandemic challenges all of us to engage in meaningful ways. We urge businesses of all sizes and in all industries – from multinational corporations to small- and medium-sized national and local enterprises to sign up to the COVID-19 Workplace Challenge and help expedite our return to a pandemic-free society.”

To read the full press release, click here.

USCIB Member Spotlight: Coca-Cola Wins Prestigious State Department ACE Award

The Coca-Cola Company wins the “ACE” Award for third time

In a virtual ceremony late last week, the U.S. Department of State announced the winners of its annual “ACE” Award (Award for Corporate Excellence) honoring U.S.-based companies, large and small, for their exemplary corporate responsibility efforts.  U.S. State Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach and Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh, both friends of USCIB and of American business, led the ceremony.  And for the fifteenth time in the twenty-one years that State has been presenting the ACE Awards, a USCIB member company has won in the large company category. 

This year, the winner in the women’s Economic Empowerment category is Coca-Cola Azerbaijan for its business training program targeting rural women entrepreneurs, advancing women-led businesses in the tourism sector and promoting entrepreneurship among young women throughout Azerbaijan. 

U.S. companies are nominated for the awards by the local U.S. Ambassador. This is the third time Coca-Cola has won the ACE Award – Coca-Cola Philippines (2014) and Coca-Cola Egypt (2002). 

Last year, two other great USCIB member companies, PepsiCo and Proctor and Gamble won the award.   

“We are delighted to see, again this year, a USCIB company among the select group of winners of the State Department’s Award for corporate Excellence,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Year in and year out, USCIB member companies are winning awards and setting pace for corporate responsibility here at home in the U.S. and around the world. Our member companies are showing the way with best practices in a wide range of important areas – environmental stewardship and sustainability, empowering women and underrepresented communities, promoting staff development and improving lives in local communities. Coca-Cola has long been seen as a global leader in these areas and I heartily congratulate them. But they are not alone; many USCIB companies are doing incredible, creative things in the corporate responsibly area around the world.”          

USCIB Commemorates Human Rights Day and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

New York, N.Y., December 10, 2020: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued the following statement on occasion of Human Rights Day today:

“On this Human Rights Day, USCIB stands with the global community in commemorating the important milestone of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR rightly proclaims the inalienable rights which 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.The coverage of these rights includes LGBTI people too.

“USCIB especially welcomes the theme of this year’s Human Rights Day, “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights,” and is dedicated to encouraging, advocating for and promoting human rights in business though sound regulations, greater respect for rule of law and greater business community involvement. The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated how important and fragile respect for human rights can be, while simultaneously demonstrating that challenges can present important opportunities to collaborate for solutions. We are proud of the actions undertaken by our membership of multinational businesses, law firms and trade associations to ensure that people and planet are protected during the pandemic.”As we come together as a global community to rebuild throughout and beyond COVID-19, USCIB and our members are committed to working with governments, the private sector and other stakeholders to advance sustainable and human rights-based solutions for all. This includes those global business organizations for which we serve as the U.S. affiliate, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (known as ‘BIAC’).”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the leading international business organizations, and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), 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 Discusses USMCA Labor Provision With USTR’s Lewis Karesh

USCIB members met for a briefing with Lewis Karesh, who serves as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor, to discuss the status of the latest developments regarding the implementation of the labor provisions of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The December 10 briefing with Karesh, who was the lead negotiator of the USMCA labor chapter, provided members a detailed overview of the new provisions in the agreement, including the newest feature, the Rapid Response Mechanism, discussing issues related to implementation and next steps to be expected. The meeting was co-organized by the USCIB Corporate Affairs and Labor Committee, as well as the Trade and Investment Committee, and included introductions from the respective Chairs: Laura Rubbo, Disney and Rick Johnston, Citi.

USMCA entered into force July 1 of this year and is currently being implemented. The Labor Chapter is a new provision, establishing a number of new labor requirements for signatory States. Among the enhancements, USMCA prioritizes labor obligations by including them in the core of the agreement and making them fully enforceable, whereas NAFTA labor obligations were contained in a side agreement on labor.

“We appreciated learning more about the USMCA labor chapter elements and their implementation status. Promulgation and effective enforcement of national labor laws that align with international standards should be the norm everywhere, and that certainly should be the case with U.S. trading partners if we are to achieve our shared goal of advancing worker rights globally,” said Gabriella Rigg Herzog, USCIB vice president for corporate responsibility and labor affairs.

The USMCA implementing legislation established an Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement, co-chaired by USTR and the Department of Labor, to coordinate U.S. implementation of its labor obligations, monitor Mexico’s labor law reforms and enforce USMCA labor provisions where necessary. “Implementation and enforcement of trade agreements is key to how effective their negotiated provisions will be for companies” commented Eva Hampl, USCIB senior director of investment, trade and financial services. “The North American market covered by USMCA is extremely important to our members and their ability to continue to be able to compete in the global market place. Effective implementation of all provisions, including the Labor Chapter, is a top priority.”

USCIB Urges Governments to Strengthen Capacity to Protect Human Rights

The United Nations held a sixth special session of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) October 26-30 to negotiate a proposed legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. USCIB, through its observatory status in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), was represented by members of its Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs team, notably Vice President Gabriella Rigg Herzog and Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves. Other participants this year included sixty-seven governments (down from eighty-nine in 2019), as well as other civil society organizations.

As could be observed by the UN TV-streamed proceedings, no clear consensus on either the draft text or the overall initiative emerged at the session.

“Unlike the unanimous support that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights received from the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, this IGWG session demonstrated once again the continued and strong divergence of views of governments on this matter” said Herzog. “USCIB and our members remain committed to fulfilling the business responsibility to respect human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles, and we encourage all stakeholders to redouble efforts to support the advancement of the UN Guiding Principles.”

“Recognized gaps concerning the core role of governments in fulfilling their State duty to protect human rights remain. Encouraging and supporting States as they work to build their capacity to effectively enforce their own national laws should be a priority for all stakeholders if meaningful access to remedy is to be achieved,” added Goncalves.

The United States government has opposed the IGWG since its launch in 2014 and issued a public statement again this year on October 26, citing opposition to the treaty based on its substance and the process around its development.

Other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and Norway, also did not attend this year’s sessions. Among the sixty-seven countries who did attend, many expressed the need for greater clarity on definitions, scope, liability and jurisdiction, emphasized the differences in state capacity and costs associated with implementation, as well as asserted the need to respect sovereignty.

USCIB will continue to observe and provide direct insights to its Members on this initiative.