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 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

OECD Works to Build Trust in Business

The OECD held its inaugural Trust in Business Forum in Paris October 1-2. The overarching initiative seeks to promote coordinated action to strengthen trust in the business ecosystem through capacity building solutions, research and knowledge creation, setting standards and guidelines and inspiring policy reform, and promoting partnerships.

Panelists and attendees, including USCIB’s Assistant Policy and Program Manager for CR and Labor Daniella Goncalves, discussed many facets of the trust gap, including why such a gap exists, what can be done to restore trust, the role of measuring and reporting on indicators that drive trust, governing professional services, and the importance of leadership in generating trust. Three concurrent break-out sessions covered the projects that are being piloted.

“The projects focus on moving beyond compliance by embedding a culture of trust within an organization, shaping compliance, best practices for State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and creating a due diligence guide for the energy sector,” reported Goncalves. “Organizers of this new initiative will be releasing a work-plan for the upcoming year soon.”

Following the Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) held its first ever joint meetings of the Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-Corruption and the Commission on Energy and Environment October 3-4. Representatives from National Committees and enterprises assembled to learn about the ICC’s restructuring before having separate Commission meetings.

ICC has recently released a new work-plan that involves five-knowledge hubs, each with its own set of projects for which members of national committees can volunteer. ICC, in its discussion regarding the Revised Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights, stated its intention to continue to align and work with both USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

Pledge to America’s Workers: Spotlight on IBM

Photo source: IBM.com

Following the recent 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 IBM has created and expanded multiple training channels, from apprenticeships to innovative reboots of high-school career and technical education programs, all with a focus on preparing students and working professionals for the many well-paying jobs in today’s technology industry that do not always require a traditional bachelor’s degree. These aren’t “blue collar” or “white collar” jobs, but in fact, “new collar” jobs that prioritize capabilities over credentials. For IBM, what matters most in these roles is having the right mix of in-demand skills and a commitment to lifelong learning. IBM believes that companies bringing advanced technologies to market have a responsibility to prepare students and workers for the way those technologies will shape jobs and the very nature of work. And through that commitment, the company is expanding job opportunities in parts of the country where technology jobs have been scarce at best, from Missouri to Louisiana to West Virginia.

New collar roles can be found in some of technology’s fastest growing fields, including cloud computing, cybersecurity and digital design, to name just a few. IBM’s goal is to shift mindsets in the tech industry, opening the hiring aperture for candidates with non-traditional backgrounds and making the tech workforce more diverse and inclusive. Whether you’ve built skills through coding camps, community colleges, apprenticeships or modern career education programs, there’s a job for you at today’s IBM.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the programs IBM has created:

In 2011, IBM helped pioneer the groundbreaking P-TECH public education model so students preparing to enter the workforce can start learning skills for new collar roles during high school. P-TECH addresses education and workforce development challenges. Students can earn their high school diploma and no-cost associate degree aligned to real career opportunities in six years or less. The program combines classroom education with mentoring and workplace experiences, all grounded in relevant skills that are in-demand among American employers. Business partners are essential to P-TECH success, as they provide mentors for students, host site visits and paid internships, and commitment to putting P-TECH graduates at the front of the line for job interviews. IBM is working with governors across the United States to expand this model and prepare more American students for new collar careers. By the end of 2019, 200 P-TECH schools will be serving 125,000 students across 10 U.S. states and 14 countries.

To help expand new collar opportunities for students and mid-career professionals, IBM launched a 21st century paid apprenticeship program in October 2017, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. This initiative focuses on building skills in cybersecurity, mainframe administration, software development and more. The 12-18 month program pairs apprentices with an IBM mentor to work on real IBM projects, along with traditional classroom learning. The apprenticeship program has proven to be very successful, growing twice as fast as expected in just the first year. By the end of 2019, IBM will have hired 500 apprentices and the company plans to hire 450 more each year for the next five years. Because of the widespread success of this program, IBM teamed with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in January 2019 to create the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition, where IBM’s apprenticeship model provides the foundation for a group of top tier companies to build or expand thousands of apprenticeships in communities coast to coast.

IBM has been a major American employer for more than a century. Two generations ago, the company helped launch the country’s first courses in computer science so workers nationwide could work with machines that were poised to reshape our lives. Today, the company is carrying that legacy forward with AI and cloud computing poised to change everything once more.

See here for other spotlights:

Salesforce

Walmart

United Nations High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

United Nations High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

September 26, 2019

New York, NY

The UN General Assembly will hold a high-level dialogue on financing for development (FfD) on September 26, 2019, the day after the meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under UNGA auspices. T

his date has been updated from September 23, per a letter circulated by the UNGA President on November 27, 2018.

The FfD meeting is mandated in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (para 132), which calls for it to convene back-to-back with the HLPF’s UNGA-level meeting every four years.

This meeting will also take place at the beginning of the UNGA session.