The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact to guide business leaders in responding to the crisis
The Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative, calls on business leaders around the world to unite to support workers, communities and companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A coordinated international plan, involving the private sector, will be critical to support the people and companies affected, limit further disruption to the economy and facilitate business continuity for a rapid recovery. The Ten Principles of the Global Compact can be a source of inspiration for companies to respond to the crisis and uncertainty of this time.
The Ten Principles and the SDGs are also an important guide to think about "afterwards", to continue working together – now more than ever – to create a new economy and a new society, both more resilient, healthy, fair and capable of living in balance with nature.
Principle 1: Promote and respect universally recognized human rights within their respective spheres of influence.
Principle 2: Ensure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses, even indirectly.
- protect the right to health of its employees and collaborators through actions to raise awareness of the risks associated with the pandemic and information on measures and techniques to prevent contagion;
- where possible, promote “smart working” methods, by making all the necessary equipment and technology available, carry out appropriate coordination work, facilitating communication between resources at a distance without penalizing them in terms of remuneration and benefits;
- where it is not possible to grant work at a distance: guarantee safe access and exit to and from the offices and spaces in which the production activity takes place; extraordinary sanitation of work environments; encourage the adoption of safe ehavior by employees (hand sanitation, safety distance, use of medical/protective devices, etc.). All this while maintaining close attention to all parts of the supply chain;
- where public access is open for the provision of essential services, ensure a safe environment for users (sanitize spaces, keep safety distance, clean surfaces, provide protective devices at the entrance, etc.);
- if useful, provide extra hours of training on workplace health protection to employees;
- ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable and/or at-risk persons receive appropriate attention;
- ensure that any measures implemented to address COVID-19 are accessible to people without discrimination of any kind such as ethnicity, colour, disability, age, gender, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or other status;
- raise public awareness by sharing the recommendations disseminated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections;
- partially or totally convert the production process to meet contingent needs related to emergency management (medicines, medical devices, equipment, etc.);
- support the World Health Organization (WHO) through contributions to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, or provide support to local communities through financial or in-kind donations to national health systems or other actors involved in pandemic management.
Principle 3: Uphold the freedom of association of workers and recognise the right to collective bargaining.
Principle 4: Support the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.
Principle 5: Support the effective elimination of child labour.
Principle 6: Uphold the elimination of all forms of discrimination regarding employment and occupation.
- ensure stable continuity of income and recognized benefits, with particular attention to women workers who often bear the burden of care, workers in precarious employment situations, low-wage workers, workers without any social protection cover;
- in the case of work in presence, increase shifting in order to reduce the exposure time to the risk of contagion and assess the inclusion of new fixed-term resources by drawing on categories currently at risk of economic and social exclusion (refugees or holders of other forms of international protection);
- offer economic support to employees through salary increases, bonuses, ad hoc incentives to meet extraordinary expenses related to the emergency;
- offer additional and specific insurance coverage to cover the COVID-19 contagion;
- flexibly manage the needs expressed by employees that are specifically related to the emergency situation (holidays, leave, parental leave, shift work, etc.);
- ensure the recognition of trade union freedom (Rsa, Rsu) and the right to strike for employees;
- oppose with extraordinary force all forms of undeclared work, child and forced labour;
- respect current supply contracts as much as possible and flexibly manage any delays in deliveries or supplies related to the COVID-19 emergency.
Principle 7: support a preventive approach to environmental challenges.
Principle 8: take steps to promote greater environmental responsibility.
Principle 9: encourage the development and spread of environmentally friendly technologies.
- encourage remote working and virtual meetings to reduce the negative impact on the environment caused by travels. Make sure you keep track of the positive environmental impacts of remote working and virtual meetings on your carbon footprint to assess which practices could be encouraged in the long term to reduce emissions;
- encourage remote working employees to implement, where possible, the environmentally friendly working practices adopted by the company in their offices (efficient use of lighting, heating, paper, electronic devices, separate waste disposal, etc.);
- manage waste disposal with particular care, especially in the case of waste collection facilities or points located near areas with people in quarantine or affected by COVID-19 to further reduce risks to their health;
- in a very short period of time, the COVID-19 crisis has had a positive impact on the environment by reducing global carbon emissions. Although travels will undoubtedly be restored, encourage travellers to consider less environmentally damaging travel options, such as train, bus or shared travel, possibly electric.
Principle 10: Combat corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
- ensure that products and services are ethically distributed and sold, discouraging corruption in all its forms, including the sale of personal protective equipment and materials at off-market prices or packaged in such a way as to compromise their effectiveness;
- strengthen, during the emergency period, active and passive corruption prevention systems and practices that may involve the company or specific departments and offices of the company, paying particular attention to areas of increased risk and vulnerability;
- foster a climate of trust within the organisation, promoting integrity of action and transparency of communication between leadership and all company levels and among employees themselves.
Further guidance for those working in the banking, insurance and financial sectors:
- companies and their Chief Financial Officers can work with banks and investors to ensure business continuity and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on operations, especially where there is a risk of disruption to essential products and services, including in the healthcare, food and logistics sectors;
- investors can invest in commercial enterprises that support pandemic-related prevention and mitigation activities;
- banks can make special credit lines available and relax repayment terms for those populations most at risk and for companies providing essential products and services;
- insurance companies can ensure that short-term disability benefits and unemployment benefits for employees and other workers affected by COVID-19 are paid quickly and in a lump sum;
- healthcare companies and health insurance companies can work together to alleviate the financial burden for patients in need of specific treatment associated with COVID-19 infections.