USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility Committee and Labor & Employment Policy Committee held the fall installment of their biannual meetings October 19-20 at the offices of Covington & Burling in Washington D.C. The meetings comprised a day and a half of panels, bringing in speakers from business, government and civil society, along with robust discussion on issues of business and human rights. The 2016 fall meetings set a new participation record for the committees, with attendance by over 60 representatives from 35-plus companies.
Laura Chapman Rubbo (Disney) chaired the meetings and facilitated discussions, with support from Tam Nguyen (Bechtel), who serves as vice-chair of the Corporate Responsibility Committee, and Ariel Meyerstein, USCIB’s vice president of labor affairs, corporate responsibility and governance.
The keynote address was given by Ambassador Patricia Haslach, principle deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Economic Bureau. Other State Department speakers included Andrew Keller, director of sanctions policy and implementation and Melike Yetken, senior adviser for corporate social responsibility and the U.S. “national contact point” for the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. Keller and Yetken discussed the impact of sanctions and shareholder resolutions on human rights, and developments concerning the OECD guidelines, respectively. Other speakers included former State Department official Alan Larson (Covington & Burling), Arvind Ganesan, who leads Human Rights Watch’s private sector engagement, and Carolyn Fisher (PepsiCo).
A considerable part of the agenda was devoted to the issue of forced labor. One panel covered elimination of the consumptive demand exception under the Tariff Act of 1930’s ban on importation of goods made with forced/child labor, with updates from Ken Kennedy, labor affairs policy adviser at U.S. Immigration, Customs & Enforcement (ICE), Jerry Malmo of the commercial enforcement division at U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP), and Megan Giblin, USCIB’s director of customs policy.
Other meeting topics included company efforts to combat forced labor, with presentations given by a variety of companies across a wide range of industries, and a discussion on the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, led by Shift Project, who was heavily involved in the development of the Reporting Framework. The second day included a conversation with Deborah Greenfield, deputy director general of policy with the International Labor organization, on the ILO’s work plan following this past June’s discussion on “Decent Work in Global Supply Chains.”
USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility and Labor & Employment Policy Committees will reconvene in the spring of 2017.