The Global Compact Network Switzerland comes to Business School Lausanne

The Global Compact Network Switzerland (GCNS) Sharing and Learning Business Lunch took place at Business School Lausanne (BSL) on Monday, the 14th March, 2016. Ron Popper, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB and Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, Business School Lausanne (BSL), the initiator of the BSL Platform for Business and Human Rights, were the guest speakers at this lunch.

The event attracted a lot of companies, civil society organizations, government and academics due, perhaps,  to of the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,(UNGPs) the Responsible Business Initiative and the National Action Plan (NAP), all under discussion at UN and Swiss government level currently.

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Mayenfisch-Tobin set the stage with an explanation of the UNGPs and she showed a film explaining how companies could think about the salient Human Rights that might impact their companies.” The world is changing”, she explained, “and business is being impacted globally by legislation that is coming from everywhere”. She cited several different laws including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, 2012,  the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, 2016, the UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015, the Dodd Frank Act, 2010 and the EU Directive on Non-financial reporting, 2014. This plethora of legislation shows how quickly the world is changing and how important it is that business everywhere be aware of these changes..

The audience heard about the efforts here in BSL to educate responsible leaders and also heard how important this is not only for BSL but for the business world also.

Ron Popper talked about the importance of business carrying out its due diligence and of “getting it right” with regards to human rights.  He acknowledged the challenges of doing business in this globalized world and answered many questions from the audience, who were clearly very involved and concerned by the topic to hand.

A fascinating lunch, a concerned audience and a burning issue- all in all, a great event!

Many thanks go to the staff of the Global Compact Network Switzerland for organizing this important meeting.

Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor
marymayenfish

 

The BSL Platform for Business and Human Rights – On the Move!

BSL Forum 2015

I am delighted to announce an initiative that is very important for business schools and education everywhere. Last Saturday, Business School Lausanne encouraged by Mary Robinson, launched our Platform for Business and Human Rights here, here in Lausanne,  Switzerland.  What do we hope to achieve with this initiative, you might ask?

Leading the way forward
We would like to be an example for other business schools, law schools, engineering schools and other educational establishments to start thinking about how business and human rights fit together! How do we and how should we educate students to be ethical and responsible in today’s business world.

I believe that the first thing that needs to happen everywhere would be to ensure human rights training for all faculty, staff and students in educational organizations. As strange as it may seem, most people find it hard to articulate what human rights really are. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is something a lot of people have heard about but few people seem to have read or totally understood what it means. This needs to change!
Continue reading

Business says Human Rights are not negotiable!

The 3rd annual Forum on business and human rights is underway as I write.  About 2,000 people from business, governments and civil society have come to the UN in Geneva and the discussion is riveting!

Mo Ibrahim, the Chairperson of the Forum opened up the session with good advice to all participants. The UN Guiding Principles (UNGP) on business and human rights is a great achievement, said Dr Ibrahim but now “the time has come to deliver”!

Annual processes to measure progress, monitoring systems , publication of results are necessary now and  this needs to be carried out by an independent , credible organization funded by governments, business and civil society.   “Business has a role to play to support and uphold society and civil society must drive change”- we were off to a good start. Continue reading

Human Rights are inalienable and indivisible!

I was happy to present my views on Business and Human Rights and corporate governance to Professor Marina Curran’s Masters Class on “Business Responsibility and Sustainability” this week.

For me it was important to tell students about the current debate on the importance of Human Rights to Business and in the Education of Business students – Financial Times: Human Rights should be on the MBA curriculum. This knowledge and understanding is so relevant and important for their future careers! Continue reading

What’s Corporate Finance got to do with Human Rights?

Dr Liz UmlasDr. Liz Umlas (see her bio below) came to Business School Lausanne to talk in the Corporate Finance MBA class about Business and Human Rights – a discussion very much centered in Switzerland right now. Dr. Umlas is a political scientist who has worked as a Human Rights specialist for a US socially responsible investment (SRI) research firm, for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and for Oxfam. She now lectures extensively on business and human rights in different universities, globally. Continue reading

United Nations Global Summit Conference – The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) September 2013

Well, here I am again and I am still talking about the United Nations Global Compact meeting that took place in New York from the 18th to the 20th September, 2013[i]. Why am I still talking about this summit you might ask?

Simply because so many things happened there but I haven’t seen much media coverage – it’s a real shame!  One of the most stimulating conferences I attended, in the company of Freda Miriklis, International President of the Business and Professional Women[ii] , concerned the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and the role of women in business and in the world. Continue reading

Governments and business can and must work together!

UN Global Compact

Architects of a Better World – the United Nations Global Compact meeting in New York – September, 18-20, 2013

In September 2000, world leaders from governments came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).[1]

The MDGs aim was to half extreme poverty, to stop spread of HIV/AIDS and to provide universal primary education. The target date for the achievement of all these goals was 2015 and all the world’s countries and leading development institutions signed up. Continue reading