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Reducing Inequalities to Advance Human Rights: The Role of Business – Leaders Summit 2022 Session

Reducing Inequalities to Advance Human Rights: The Role of Business – Leaders Summit 2022 Session

Covering “Reducing Inequalities to Advance Human Rights: The Role of Business” live from UN Global Leaders Summit floor.

Featuring Jikyeong Kang, President and Dean, MVP Chair in Marketing, Asian Institute of Management; Jon Abrahamsson Ring, CEO, Inter IKEA Group; Alexandra Palt, Fondation L’Oréal; Nicolette Naylor, International Program Director, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice at the Ford Foundation.

  • Spotlighting the need for swift action from business to reduce inequalities and promote human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
  • By promoting fair, equitable, sustainable development and respecting human and labour rights, we can create a world where everyone’s dignity and rights are respected, basic needs are met, and equal opportunities are available for all.
  • Confronting inequalities has moved to the forefront of many global policy debates, and together with Governments, the global business community has both a stake and a role to play in fulfilling the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind.”

Jikyeong Kang, President and Dean, Asian Institute of Management, facilitated an international business leader panel with a major theme: systematic change must happen from the top down. Additionally, the panel pressed change must accelerate because of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and inequality issues. Panelists affirmatively responded to additional regulations and stronger polices. Overall, a better society creates better business. Business leaders must come together to accelerate actions to create a more equitable society.

From the panel

Jon Abrahamsson Ring (CEO, Inter IKEA Group)

  • There are dual forces at play in growing a business: making people’s lives better at home every day as well as contributing to positive change for human rights for the future. “In doing this, we are touching millions of people across the whole value chain of IKEA. We have impact on all of that”.
  • Ring emphasized the importance of evaluating the entire value and supply chain for human rights issues.
  • Ring acknowledged good regulations help businesses identify where problems exist, and, consequently, level the playing field.
  • Businesses need to know “how to get more from less” while transitioning to a net zero circular economy.

See related article: Accelerating Private Sector Action for a Just Transition to Net Zero – Leaders Summit 2022 Session

Alexandra Palt (Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer and CEO, Fondation L’Oréal)

  • Echoed Ring’s statements that large companies must evaluate human rights issues within their own supply chain.
  • We must shift away from 20th century business leadership styles because “the question is what happens if we don’t do it?”
  • “It’s very clear that businesses have realized that work needs to be done. The question is how fast are you going to do that?”
  • Palt, a trained lawyer, underscored that law is only one tool because “the law is stopping at level one for the moment.”

Nicolette Naylor (International Program Director, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice at the Ford Foundation)

  • Pressed business leaders must have hard conversations about business culture and racism. “Racism is playing outside in society; it’s playing out in our organizations”.
  • Diversity policies should not be a numbers game because “hiring a few Black leaders does not help with patriarchal attitudes overnight.”
  • Policies should also be monitored, but it should not be about focusing on the bad apples.
  • Change involves asking the hard questions such as “how culturally competent are our staff” and “are we identifying and acknowledging our bias?”. Naylor added that it’s also about using that introspection to move progressive polices from paper to practice.
  • Organizations must redefine their relationships with governments on how to address gender-based violence, a major interconnected issue within the human rights realm.

Event Details:

Day/Time of Panel: Day 1; 11:30 am EST

Sequence of Panel: 4th panel of Day 1

Footer: This article is part of a series covering the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) Leaders Summit is an annual convening of global stakeholders from the UN, the public and private sectors, and civil society that takes stock of progress of the SDGs so far, and addresses the gaps in knowledge, resources, and funding. The 2022 Leaders Summit, like last year’s summit, will be a hybrid event of live and virtual speakers. Featured venues this year include an in-person event held in Bangkok, as well as virtual plenaries in Latin America, Australia, East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in addition to UN Headquarters in New York. This inclusive global event — which will run continuously for more than 24 hours — aims to empower business leaders at every level to take collective action and inspire future leaders to embed a sustainability mindset in their work. ESG News is the exclusive media partner of the event, and will cover all 26 panels. To read all of the articles in the series, visit here.


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