UN Global Compact Leader’s Summit

The SHRM Global Affairs team participated in the 2020 United Nations Global Compact Leader’s Summit on June 15 to 16, 2020. This year’s high-level summit marked its 20th anniversary and convened the world’s foremost leaders to discuss the values of the United Nations and how business can support countries and communities around the world to ‘Recover better, recover stronger, and recover together’ from the COVID-19 crisis.

The UN Global Compact, is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, working with companies to align strategies and operations with its principles of labor and human rights, among others. In 2020, SHRM’s CEO, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., participated in the ‘CEOs Taking Action’ initiative, where he shared the important role of HR professionals around the world on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and resiliency.

The Summit took place virtually, due to the current pandemic, and was composed by motivating plenary sessions, exhibitions, interactive workshops and networking opportunities. Attendees were able to interact in real-time with leaders from Business, Government, the United Nations, Civil Society and Academia for a 24-hour conversation about how we can rebuild more inclusive economies and societies where no one is left behind.

“Let’s use COVID-19 as a wake-up call. How must we recover more resilient, stronger? Let’s start by giving the global market a human face.”—Lise Kingo, Former CEO UN Global Compact.

Discussion topics in this year’s summit included gender equity, inclusion, decent work, economic growth, climate change, corporate social responsibility, technology, access to top global talent, skilling, and alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Another key topic revolved around the importance of advocacy and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Some of this year’s prominent speakers included the Presidents of Germany, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bostwana, the UN Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Director General, Al Gore, various CEOs from multinational companies, among others.

When businesses unite, they can be a powerful source for good. Together, we can take corporate sustainability to the mainstream and unite in the business for a better world.”— António Guterres, UN Secretary-General”

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, remarks capitalized on the need for global unity and international cooperation, and the idea that business has a key role to play in ‘creating a world and a global economy where people and planet alike can thrive.’ He also shared the advancement of gender equity and inclusion through the ‘Women’s Empowerment Principles’ program and its principles of women empowerment and inclusion in the workplace, marketplace and community—of which SHRM’s Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs, Emily M. Dickens, has proudly been a part of in 2020 with UN Women and the G7, EU and ILO recommendations.

This year’s Summit also welcomed its new CEO, Sandra Ojiambo, who takes the UN Compact Executive Director role from Lise Kingo after her 5-year term as CEO. Ms. Ojiambo, a well-known Kenyan leader, brings 20 years of experience to lead the Global Compact in its next phase, mobilize global companies and stakeholders, and bring the full weight of the private sector to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the fulfillment of the 2030 agenda.

For more information on Global Affairs efforts and activities, please contact Karen E. Mitchell in the Government Affairs Department.

Authors : Lal Benitah & Joseph Hazel