Turning the economy we have into the just and inclusive economy we want

March 10, 2021 by  
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Turning the economy we have into the just and inclusive economy we want Anthony Toppi Wed, 03/10/2021 – 00:45 Editor’s note: This article is the third in a series about the Ceres Roadmap 2030, a vision for sustainable business leadership in this crucial decade. The roadmap provides a 10-year action plan to help companies navigate and thrive in the accelerated transition to a more just, equitable and sustainable economy. You can find the first article here , and the second here . As COVID-19 spread across the United States last year, meatpackers, farmworkers, grocery clerks and warehouse employees were among the hardest hit. Many were pressured to stay on the job, if not by their employers or the government, then by the need for a paycheck. The pandemic forced us all to confront the disparities between the haves and the have-nots in this country. On top of that reckoning came a series of brutal killings of African-Americans engaged in everyday activities of jogging, shopping at a convenience store and sleeping at night at home. These events further shocked our collective consciousness. A renewed urgency has emerged to address and reject systemic racial and economic injustices that have been ignored too long. And to understand that human rights, racial equity and environmental justice are now squarely business issues. The call for a just, equitable society and economy is spoken by individuals and institutions alike, by governments — and by companies. But for many companies, examining and improving their performance on these systemic issues is new territory. How do they adequately analyze their human rights and racial equity practices both within their own operations and throughout their supply chains? How do they assess their impacts on the communities in which they operate? The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have provided a broad sweep of a vision. But the granular details of how to mark this reality in day-to-day operations of a business can be perplexing.  Business leadership becomes less about being at the forefront of a movement and more about creating a platform for those communities to meaningfully influence capital markets. A new 10-year action plan released last year could help. The Ceres Roadmap 2030 details the steps companies can take to build a just and inclusive economy, stabilize the climate and protect water and natural resources in order to address the systemic threats most likely to disrupt the global economy in the coming decade. The goal of building a just and inclusive economy may seem daunting and even impossible in the current context of racial tension, economic inequity and widespread systemic discrimination. But companies that refuse to embrace environmental justice, to advance equity of economic opportunity and to dismantle the systems that perpetuate systemic racism do so at their own risk. Businesses that continue to hold on to obsolete business models are in danger of losing customers, employees, access to talent and a social license to operate.  The minimum standard for doing business in the next decade is a respect for the fundamental human rights of employees, both direct and indirect, as well as for people affected by corporate activities. That includes communities in which companies operate, residents of neighboring cities with which they share an aquifer or a transportation system, and consumers who use their products.  For instance, when the large banking giant Citi makes financing decisions, it evaluates client projects against environmental and social risks using a risk management system. Technology giant Dell Technologies has established human rights-focused goals across all parts of its value chain. That includes engaging supply chain workers, developing diversity and inclusion goals for its own operations and ensuring privacy protection for its customers.  The Ceres Roadmap 2030 urges companies to recognize the value of an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace and to provide all employees with equitable opportunity, wages and benefits, and respectful treatment. For example, health retailer CVS recruits and hires people with disabilities through its Abilities in Abundance Program and seeks out diverse local suppliers from whom to procure products through its Supplier Diversity Program.  While individual corporate action is important to ensure we achieve the necessary change at the scale required, our framework challenges companies to act beyond their four walls and be strong advocates for changing the institutions and government policies that perpetuate inequities and injustices.  In 2020, we saw some companies take laudable steps in those directions. Netflix, Levi Strauss and Merck spoke out against police brutality. The Business Roundtable and many of its member companies, such as Apple and Facebook, condemned the government program that separated immigrant children from their parents at the border or that demonstrated bias against transgender people. And other organizations, Mars and Inditex, called for enhanced government regulation on human rights and business activities to level the playing field. But for every step forward, we saw just as many critical missteps by companies undermining our shot at a just and inclusive economy. Most notably, the passage of Proposition 22 in California, which exempted Uber from having to classify drivers as employees, and the slow creep of similar legislative proposals and referenda to other states dealt a decisive blow to gig workers who are the epitome of a 21st-century workforce but lack even 20th-century worker benefits and protections.  Unquestionably, 2020 was an unprecedented and devastating year in so many ways. The toll of human suffering beyond most imaginations was only made worse by political and racial divides that exacerbated rather than healed the pain experienced by so many.  Corporations have a responsibility to take the experiences of the last year and learn from them. As we listen to the voices of frontline communities whose life and livelihood require that we reverse the climate crisis, advance economic and racial justice and protect precious natural resources, business leadership becomes less about being at the forefront of a movement and more about creating a platform for those communities to meaningfully influence capital markets. It truly is a moment of opportunity for business and the planet. Companies can lead by putting others forward, and thrive in doing so. Pull Quote Business leadership becomes less about being at the forefront of a movement and more about creating a platform for those communities to meaningfully influence capital markets. Topics COVID-19 Social Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Chan2545 Close Authorship

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Turning the economy we have into the just and inclusive economy we want

Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo

February 19, 2021 by  
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Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo UN Global Compact CEO Sanda Ojiambo addresses the evolution of business and human rights in the context of today’s social justice movement. This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s GreenBiz 21, February 9-11, 2021. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/greenbiz-forum/online/2021 Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3o41UIXmx5sBWJwZfEwg OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenbiz-group Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz YanniGuo Fri, 02/19/2021 – 12:22 Featured Off

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Backing Up Statements with Action: The Intersection of Business and Human Rights with Sanda Ojiambo

UN Global Compact CEO encourages more ‘due diligence’ on human rights

February 15, 2021 by  
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UN Global Compact CEO encourages more ‘due diligence’ on human rights Angely Mercado Mon, 02/15/2021 – 02:00 Sanda Ojiambo thinks businesses can thrive while upholding values that are becoming increasingly important to consumers and stakeholders. And as CEO and executive director of the United Nations Global Compact, she is at the helm of a movement navigating that intersection of business growth and honoring social justice movements.  During GreenBiz 21 last week, Ojiambo spoke about the need for companies to have a mission-driven response to social issues in order to contribute to an equitable and resilient recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. She credited her experience in both the private and public sector for her ability to brainstorm potential solutions to inequality that involve both.  “There has to be an ‘all of’ sector, a multi-sectoral approach to driving this [social] change,” Ojiambo said during a keynote conversation. “Each time I’m in a different sector, there’s different views, different challenges and certainly different opportunities.”  She called 2020 an “incredible year” that demonstrated how business leaders can step up to embody their company’s social mission statements, pointing to new partnerships created to support COVID relief. She pointed out that necessity had bred innovation across e-commerce, online learning and even vaccine production. More than 90% of the 169 targets of the SDGs are linked to international human rights and labor standards. “Businesses have shifted into sanitizers, essential production, the banking industry reshaped its views on credit both for retail and institutions… I have to say business truly has stepped up,” Ojiambo said.  She pointed out that though the pandemic had put social justice in the center of some innovation and mobilization efforts of large businesses, much work is required to address the rise of poverty and educational gaps caused by the economic downturn. Despite some wins for big business, Ojiambo reminded the GreenBiz 21 audience that many small businesses had closed, creating higher rates of unemployment.  A social imperative to speak up Business members of the UN Global Compact commit to universal principles including the idea that companies should support the protection of internationally recognized human rights. Ojiambo said businesses cannot avoid discussing social issues such as the right to employment, health and safety in the workplace because they play a role in shaping access to those rights.  “More than 90 percent of the 169 targets of the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ] are linked to international human rights and labor standards,” Ojiambo elaborated. “So it’s truly impossible for business, indeed anyone, to deliver on the Global Goals without making sure that human rights are front and center.” Businesses are falling behind Ojiambo emphasized that the UN Global Compact’s guiding principles are one way to ensure more businesses have a “due diligence” process that accounts for potential human rights risks caused by a business. Corporations also should have a commitment followed by a policy that will remedy any risks caused by business practices and prevent further risks in the future. (To hear more, listen to Episode 255 of GreenBiz 350.) She worries that many businesses have not created prevention measures beyond stating their commitment to human rights and sustainability.  “There’s a big gap between aspiration, policy and action,” she said.  There’s a big gap between aspiration, policy and action. An urgent priority According to Ojiambo, one key social justice issue businesses should put more efforts towards addressing is racial justice. She explained that racial inequality often occurs when other key human rights are being denied. Because racism is a systemic issue, addressing racism will require businesses to be introspective and proactively engaged in changing systems of racism, she said.  “This is definitely not an activity or an event, it is a long-term process. And I think that companies must be able to embark on this journey with transparency, with openness — being bold and being candid to really address race issues,” Ojiambo said.  Ojiambo also pointed to how businesses could use social justice policies to address environmental justice issues and how both issues intersect with public health.  “The health response needs to be seen in the bigger context of the overall response and recovery around COVID — just to ensure, as I always say that these practices and these innovations that have taken place over time continue to be environmentally sound,” she explained.  Message of hope? Despite some gaps in addressing social justice issues and sustainability, Ojiambo said it was inspiring to see businesses that have voluntarily used their platforms and resources to address a number of issues throughout 2020.  For example, Starbucks gave workers hazard pay during the first months of the pandemic and gave them the option to have paid time off if they felt they had been exposed to the virus. And software company Salesforce did not lay off workers. CEO Marc Benioff took to Twitter to challenge other companies to avoid layoffs for at least 90 days last year.  Ojiambo’s hopefulness that businesses will continue to step up to address social issues is propelled by seeing how governments and the private sector are moving to address societal problems.  “I think there’s a lot evolving around us. And I do hope that this world of unusual partnerships continues, not only for emergencies, but actually for a better way of doing business and thriving forward,” she said.  Pull Quote More than 90% of the 169 targets of the SDGs are linked to international human rights and labor standards. There’s a big gap between aspiration, policy and action. Topics Human Rights Social Justice Racial Justice GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and executive director of the United Nations Global Compact. Photo: United Nations

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UN Global Compact CEO encourages more ‘due diligence’ on human rights

What the world could look like after COVID-19

April 10, 2020 by  
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Will we be better prepared to respond to the climate emergency and other urgent sustainability challenges as a result of this experience?

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What the world could look like after COVID-19

Gender equality at a snail’s pace

March 6, 2020 by  
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We need to stop making excuses and settling for incremental change.

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Gender equality at a snail’s pace

Looking at climate from the social angle

November 27, 2019 by  
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An NFL fullback, teen activists, a National Geographic photographer and others provide provocative talks about critical equity-climate connections.

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Looking at climate from the social angle

Let’s raise the bar on human rights

November 22, 2019 by  
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A persisting lack of transparency and public communication makes it difficult to hold companies accountable. Can we change that?

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Let’s raise the bar on human rights

Three ways business is combating modern slavery

September 4, 2019 by  
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Around the world, more than 100 goods are probably produced with forced labor.

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Three ways business is combating modern slavery

How business can affect human rights: 4 lessons from peacebuilding and development

September 3, 2019 by  
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We can do more to proactively protect the well-being of people in communities where businesses operate — with the power of the private sector.

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How business can affect human rights: 4 lessons from peacebuilding and development

Rethinking conservation: the Amazon through the lens of a NatGeo photographer

July 15, 2019 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: Is conserving natural resources in the Amazon rainforest as black-and-white as we think?

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Rethinking conservation: the Amazon through the lens of a NatGeo photographer

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