July 13, 2024

Companies, especially those opera-ting internationally, are called to improve compliance with labor standards which many of them have incorporated in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.

“These corporate policies are imposed through supply contracts, and they typically call for the supplier to comply not only with domestic labor and environmental law, but also to forbid practices such as child labor and discrimination,” Dong Eung Lee, senior employer specialist at International Labour Organization (ILO), said in a presentation in a webinar.

Lee said international labor standards (ILS) are part of the international guiding principles for human rights behavior.

“Employers are affected by ILS ‘through national legislation’ that implements conventions. However, even if ILS are not taken up by national legislation, employers should be concerned about them,” he added.

Lee said ILS has been taken over by many other international instruments when they deal with labor rights.

He said enterprises are also adopting CSR, referring to “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm.”

“Due to climate change and increasing pressures from civil society and governments, there are more and more expectations that companies will incorporate social and environmental concerns into the core of their decision-making process,” Lee said.

“It (CSR) is about organizations acting responsibly over and above compliance with national laws and regulations, especially where such laws do not exist or are poorly enforced,” he added.

Lee also cited the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria which are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments.

“Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates,” he said.

Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights, he added.

Meanwhile, Lee said the Sustainable Development Goals is more of a holistic concept, encompassing the full range of environmental, social and economic issues, “that should be integrated into the core purpose of business and in its operations.”

He said human rights due diligence requires companies to act responsibly to prevent, mitigate, and account for human rights abuses.

“This is a campaign to address the prevalence of human rights abuses in business operations and global supply chains. There has been a significant push to make the practice of human rights due diligence mandatory for businesses in some countries,” he added. – Press release