Robinson Joins Business, Health and Employer Experts at IOE Event on COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention

Left to right: Roberto Suarez Santos, Guy Ryder, Susan Hopgood, Peter Robinson

As employers remain on the frontline of the pandemic response, caught between calls to mandate vaccination in the workplace and demands to respect the decisions on vaccination of the individual, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) hosted a timely dialogue, “COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention.”

The October 5 event brought together foremost experts from the health, employer and business fields, including World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, ILO Director General Guy Ryder, IOE President Roberto Suarez Santos and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, among others, to discuss this delicate balance, as well as the increasingly complicated situation in developing countries around access to vaccines, in addition to vaccine hesitancy. Panelists focused on a central question: how can employer organizations help companies navigate all these complex and politically charged issues?

Swaminathan outlined the stark realities of COVID-19 and the continued challenges of distribution and access to vaccines worldwide, while DG Ryder acknowledged some of the key dilemmas facing society and employers: in addition to the inequality in distribution and access, the question of mandates and of privacy, for example, is an employer empowered to know the vaccine status of employees? As an employer representative, Robinson discussed the responsibility employers have in vaccine literacy and COVID response and recovery, particularly following the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that employers—not “Big Business” but employers in general—were felt by employees to be one of the most trusted messengers of information on Covid response.

“While there have been fears of a mass exodus of people quitting and not returning to work, preliminary results show that people are following suit—trusting their employer and government—and getting vaccinated and returning to work to protect health and liberty,” said Robinson. “Recent surveys show that the public supports employers who work to protect society by requiring vaccination as a condition of entry to work. This is in sync with global efforts supporting governments to provide equitable vaccination access so that no one gets left behind.”

Robinson also referenced The USCIB Foundation’s initiative “Business Partners to CONVINCE”, or “BP2C”, designed to encourage and support employers worldwide in making the case for vaccination.

“I would like to take the opportunity to express special thanks for the support of IOE, whose role is and will be especially critical given its extensive range of employer organization members particularly as vaccines become more available in developing countries,” added Robinson. “Looking ahead, as the debate on credentials, passports, verification schemes and other ideas advance, we continue to support efforts to strategically engage business and government bodies to effectively communicate to build vaccine confidence and help galvanize support for re-normalizing a COVID-protected world. We are hopeful for a robust recovery in 2022.  Yet, if we do not work together to advance vaccine access, literacy, and uptake globally, we could face barriers for building back better. We could hit the wall and fall short of vaccination goals. Yet, I remain convinced we can find a way with business, employers and the private sector helping to forge the way forward with our efforts such as this event and in collaboration with our social partners.”

USCIB at the UN General Assembly (UNGA76)

As another challenging United Nations General Assembly (UNGA76) got underway with a “hybrid” High-Level opening week, COVID-19 and challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, energy access, food security and lack of adequate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) loomed large. USCIB convened several events to highlight the essential role of business in inclusive multilateralism and, for the first time, USCIB Board Members and Trustees stepped into the spotlight and clearly state USCIB commitment from the top to deliver private sector expertise and innovation to international challenges.

UNGA76 set the stage for critical decision-point policy meetings in the next six-months: the OECD Council of Ministers, the Glasgow Climate Summit and the WTO Ministerial to name a few. These events brought together members, representatives of the UN system, governments and civil society to share ideas for productive ways to advance a sustainable and resilient recovery through collaborative public-private partnerships and strengthened enabling frameworks.

Below are events USCIB hosted with its global partners and members, indicative of continuous involvement of USCIB policy managers, senior leaders, and members at the UN in New York and in other important events on the margins of the GA, including the ICC SDG Business Forum, the Business Fights Poverty Global Goals Summit and several webinars organized by the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

USCIB Business Townhall at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Tackling and Solving Global Challenges

September 20: On the margins of this week’s 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a virtual discussion titled “Reinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.”  This meeting was among the first organized by business to comment on the just issued UN Secretary General’s Report and vision for international cooperation, “Our Common Agenda.”

The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Participants from business and industry, the UN, governments, and civil society tuned into the session, which highlighted the critical role of the private sector in being able to achieve ‘Our Common Agenda,’ and particularly of the U.S. private sector in aligning with global business to respond to global challenges, and provide solutions working through inclusive multilateralism.

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USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

September 21: On the eve of the UN Food Systems and Nutrition Summit, USCIB convened a virtual event—The Future of Food: A Conversation— with experts and practitioners from across societal, scientific, value chain and innovation perspectives. The event highlighted the need for and successful examples of innovation across the food and agriculture industry, the roles and relevance of collaborative approaches to innovation, and how shared value and understanding can hold the key to future opportunities. Facilitated by USCIB SVP for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the event was convened around the premise that in order to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries—considering amount of global climate emissions linked to agriculture and food—leaders must rethink how food, and especially protein, is made and sourced. Transforming the food system is not a solitary task; industry must come together and find new ways to collaborate and partner, and new alternatives must be created in a complementary manner.

Expert speakers included USCIB member Dr. Randal Giroux of Cargill, Chair of  USCIB’s Food and Agriculture Committee, as well as Valerio Nannini, Novozymes general manager for Novozymes Advanced Proteins Solutions. Other experts included Christine Gould, founder and president of Food for Thought, and The Good Food Institute Vice President, Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell.

Read full story here.

USCIB Joins Global Coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation

September 23: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA76). The Summit launched bold new actions as part of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. The goal of the Summit was to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to meet the challenges of poverty, food security, malnutrition, population growth, climate change and natural resource degradation. During the Summit, the U.S. announced the formation of a global Coalition of Action on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition). The coalition will accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through agricultural productivity growth that optimizes sustainability across social, economic and environmental dimensions. The coalition will advance a holistic approach to productivity growth that considers impacts and tradeoffs among multiple objectives. USCIB has joined the SPG Coalition.

USCIB Event at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Countering Global Challenges

Top: Brian Lowry (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB) Bottom: Michele Parmelee (Deloitte), Hans-Jorn Weddige (Business at OECD)

On the margins of this week’s 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD to organize a virtual discussion titledReinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.” The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Ester Baiget, Novozymes chief executive, and USCIB Trustee and Sustainability Champion, opened the event. “We must drive the change we want to see together,” said Baiget in her opening remarks.

Other USCIB Board members, namely Michele Parmelee (Deloitte) and John Frank (Microsoft), also served as speakers, on climate change, business and human rights, and on new ways for the business community to engage with and strengthen the effectiveness of the multilateral system en route to a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

UNGA76 convenes at a time of multiple challenges, which are putting the multilateral system to the test and raising questions about the resilience of the UN and such basic values of democracy, rule of law and inclusive societies. The event focused on three fireside chats, specifically aligning with key priorities of the President of the UN General Assembly —climate change and environment; human rights and business; pandemic response and recovery.

“UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently issued a report, ‘Our Common Agenda,’ clearly highlighting the need to reinvigorate multilateralism,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Business is ready to work with the international community and contribute to ‘break throughs’ that protect people and planet.”

Participants from business and industry, the UN, governments, and civil society tuned into the session, which highlighted the critical role of the private sector in being able to achieve ‘Our Common Agenda,’ and particularly of the U.S. private sector in aligning with global business to respond to global challenges, and provide solutions working through inclusive multilateralism.

Speakers included:

Robin Ogilvy, OECD Special Representative and Permanent Observer to the UN

Matthias Thorns, IOE Deputy Secretary General

Dr. Scott Ratzan, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation

Larry O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law School

Fernando Ylanes Almanza President, Social Security Commission, CONCAMIN

USCIB President Peter Robinson Issues Statement Upon Death of Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka
Image Source: Alex Brandon/AP Photo

New York, N.Y., August 05, 2021—USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson has issued the following statement upon the death of Richard Trumka:

“On behalf of USCIB and its member companies, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and colleagues of Richard Trumka. His dedication to the labor movement and the interests of American workers and their families has long earned him the respect and admiration of the business community.

“That dedication also extended to working people around the world. As the American member of Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB has been proud to work with Rich and the AFL-CIO in both the OECD and ILO, where we shared the common objective of ensuring that labor rights are respected internationally. Rich was a true global leader with whom we were privileged to work in partnership.”

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 Releases Statement Recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

New York, N.Y., July 30, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the global community in recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and released the following statement:

We are proud of the work our corporate members do to engage in the fight against trafficking, including initiatives to train employees to spot signs of human trafficking and conducting thorough human rights due diligence to mitigate instances of forced labor in their supply chains. We welcome this year’s theme, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way,” and are committed to centering the needs of victims and survivors on the road away from exploitation. That those who are trafficked often experience revictimization and stigmatization throughout their post-rescue experiences is a tragic and unacceptable compounding of abuse.

Available statistics on human trafficking reveal a devastating and unacceptable state of human rights abuse that implicates every country. An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, making up forty-six percent and ninteen percent of victims respectively, and one in three victims detected is a child. A study released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) illustrates the devastating impact of COVID-19 on victims and survivors of human trafficking and highlights the increased targeting and exploitation of children during the course of the pandemic.

USCIB and our members continue to take decisive action in the fight against human trafficking. The private sector continues to design and implement innovative programs to root out this type of abuse in supply chains. USCIB is a member of the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour (GBNFL). Operating across all sectors and geographies, ILO GBNFL members and partners work to engage smaller enterprises, develop resources and tools and devise local solutions that help shape national frameworks to create lasting change.

Governments must do their part in enacting labor laws that meet international standards, investing in capacity building to implement, monitor and remediate abuses and working with stakeholders to take preventative action. Many governments have already taken critical actions against trafficking, as evidenced in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trafficking in Persons Report. 

USCIB and our members stand ready to work with civil society, academics, governments and others in the fight against human trafficking. We are committed to ensuring victims and survivors are treated with dignity and respect and given opportunities in their post-rescue journeys. 

Please see resources:

ILO’s Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking

United Nations Human Trafficking

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.

Lowry Serves as Witness at Hearing on Forced Labor in Supply Chains

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry served as a witness during the House Ways and Means (HWM) Trade Subcommittee Hearing addressing, “The Global Challenge of Forced Labor in Supply Chains: Strengthening Enforcement and Protecting Workers” on July 21.

According to Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as chair, the hearing was held “to shine a light on some of these countries, regions and sectors, to consider U.S. enforcement efforts, and to discuss ways we can work with our trading partners to cooperate on eradicating forced labor in our supply chains.”

At the center of Lowry’s testimony were proposed operational changes to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Withhold Release Order (WRO) process. USCIB’s proposed multi-step process, includes CBP providing companies with information about allegations earlier in the WRO process, providing companies sixty-days to respond with information critical to the investigation and instituting a time-limited process. The proposal seeks to improve CBP’s forced labor enforcement process by increasing transparency and encouraging greater collaboration with the trade community.

“Greater transparency by Customs upon initiation of an investigation and prior to the issuance of a withhold release order would enable the business community to partner with Customs to address forced labor and prevent the importation of prohibited goods,” stated Lowry.

“We strongly believe that Customs must modernize, update and align its regulations, policies and procedures to address the evolving threat of forced labor in supply chains in partnership with the business community,” he continued.

In conclusion Lowry reiterated, “Our proposed process will create a reasonable, transparent and – most importantly – effective system for combatting forced labor in supply chains.

Chairman Blumenauer demonstrated his interest in USCIB’s viewpoint by directing his first question to Lowry, and later stating, “Mr. Lowry, I look forward to working with you refining some of this going forward.”  The Chairman concluded the hearing, expressing his view that this “was just one of the best hearings I’ve been privileged to participate in. I appreciate what our witnesses do and appreciate the engagement of our members making it such a constructive effort.”

Other witnesses included Neha Misra, global lead, Migration and Human Trafficking, Solidarity Center; Jennifer Rosenbaum, executive director, Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum; Charity Ryerson, executive director, Corporate Accountability Lab and Genevieve LeBaron, professor of politics, University of Sheffield.

A recording of the full hearing can be found here.

USCIB is Committed to Fighting for LGBTQI+ Equality and Inclusion

Pride Month may be coming to an end, but USCIB is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year.

As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out: “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school, and in public accommodations.”

USCIB and our members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

Annual Labor Conference Deliberates COVID-19 and Social Protection

As in years past, USCIB participated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) June 3-June 19.  As the U.S. employer representative to the International Employers’ Organization (IOE), USCIB is the only U.S. business organization to participate in the annual conference.

Due to COVID-19, the ILC was cancelled in 2020 for the first time in its 100-year history and is taking place virtually this year.  A second session of the ILC will be taking place from November 25 to December 11 and will cover the critical topics of skills and inequalities.

In addition to standing agenda items, the June session included discussions on the ILO’s response to COVID-19 and Social Protection, as well as General Body elections for the 2021 to 2024 term, to which USCIB Senior Advisor Tom Mackall secured a position as a representative for the Americas. Declarations on the ILO’s Response to COVID-19 and Social Protection were adopted by the Plenary on the Final day of the ILC. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog and Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves participated in the Social Protection negotiations.

Notably USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson delivered remarks on the Director General’s Report, Work in the Time of COVID. After acknowledging and thanking DG Guy Ryder for his years of service, Robinson laid out USCIB priorities for a sustainable and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Highlighting Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) and USCIB’s unique policy expertise and access to multilateral fora, Robinson noted: “USCIB continues to advocate to address decent work deficits through investments in securing rule of law. We remain particularly concerned by the persistent issue of forced labor, which requires international attention. The ILO has a critical role to play and should apply its expertise, leadership and resources to support the elimination of forced labor. “

“We are confident that through increased collaboration and policy coherence, investments in capacity building efforts, and continued social dialogue, with the ILO serving as the custodian of SDG-8, we will emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more resilient and inclusive society,” added Robinson.

USCIB Welcomes Commitment by G7 to Inclusive Global Recovery

New York, N.Y., June 16, 2021—Following the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the G7’s resolute commitment in this time of crisis to a cooperative and inclusive global recovery built on democratic values, private sector partnership, open trade, investment and sustainability.

We are proud to embrace the G7’s enduring ideals of free open societies and democracies, and its support for inclusive multilateralism in action.

We agree that tackling root causes of human rights abuses and combatting failures of integrity and transparency are essential to any effort to build back better and importantly, to also provide the fullest possible access to healthcare and vaccines worldwide.

We are committed to eliminating forced labor and other human rights abuses from global supply chains, and to advance the uptake of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We applaud renewed attention on eradicating corruption as it erodes public trust in government, wastes resources and presents an obstacle to needed economic and social development and our shared vision of achieving the Paris Agreement and UN 2030 Goals.

We are inspired by USCIB members mobilizing to help meet the ongoing pandemic challenge. Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is essential to economic recovery; this urgent task will require production, as well as widespread distribution and administration of vaccines. The private sector serves as an important partner in this endeavor and can assist with vaccine-deployment strategies based on efficiency and equity. A sustainable, durable solution will address a host of issues, including: re-distribution of excess vaccine supplies to countries that face shortages; removing regulatory and trade barriers to vaccine production and distribution; efficient supply chain operations; procurement challenges; the potential risks associated with counterfeit and illicit trade in medical goods; and addressing hesitancy and misinformation about vaccines. While more needs to be done, the U.S. and G7 support for COVAX and Act-A are big steps in the right direction. Through Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), USCIB is advancing actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption while highlighting the vital role employers play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

We believe that private sector innovation and its wide deployment, whether in healthcare solutions, digital access or climate change, will be fundamental to attain the ambitious targets and actions set out in the communique. The G7 has emphasized the need for urgent reform and revitalization at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and incentivizing innovation as key priorities in all of these areas. We couldn’t agree more.

We appreciate the G7’s ongoing dialogue and cooperation with business, and thank the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for coordinating this year’s B7 process.

USCIB Statement on World Day Against Child Labor

New York N.Y., June 10, 2021 — On the World Day Against Child Labor, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the chorus of global voices calling for elimination of child labor. This issue is one of profound concern for the business community and we applaud the robust efforts of our corporate members to help tackle the scourge of exploitative child labor. As the U.S. business representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), USCIB has consistently advocated for international action to promote decent work and address the enforcement and implementation gaps that exacerbate vulnerabilities.

Ahead of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, the ILO and UNICEF released new global estimates on child labor. USCIB notes with great concern the increase of children in child labor for the first time in twenty-years and we know that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an ongoing risk to millions more children.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 160 million children in child labor, seventy-nine million of which are in hazardous work. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to recommit to and invest in good governance, promulgation of sound national labor laws, and effective enforcement. USCIB stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG-8) to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” with particular attention to Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labor by 2025.

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.