Opening address at the Technical webinar on Corporate Social Responsibility/Responsible Business Conduct for policymakers

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Technical webinar on Corporate Social Responsibility/Responsible Business Conduct for policymakers, 24 March 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 24 March 2021
  • Majority House Leader Honourable  Romualdez
  • Minority House Leader Honourable  Paduano,
  • Members of the House Committee on Labor and Employment Chairperson  led by Honourable Pineda,
  • Distinguished members of the House of Representatives,
  • Mr Cellini of the EU Delegation to the Philippines,
  • Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good day!
It is truly an honour to welcome you to this high-level webinar on socially responsible labour practices.

It is indeed a privilege to have distinguished leaders and members of the House of Representatives with us today to discuss this very important issue of corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct.

Recent estimates of the International Labour Organization (ILO) revealed a massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour markets. This is the most severe crisis for the world of work since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its impact is far greater than the financial crisis.

There are tentative signs of recovery but slow, uneven. It is crucial to build on right policies and actions. For these recovery policies to be effective, they must be human-centred, and must target vulnerable groups. Women, young people, low skilled and low-paid workers mostly in the informal economy have been badly hit. Inequality and poverty will increase if we leave them behind.

We are at a very critical time  when all sectors – the government, the business sector, the civil society and the public should be working together in confronting the challenges towards a lasting, sustainable and inclusive recovery.  

We need large -scale, integrated, policy measures focusing on the following four pillars stimulating the economy and jobs; supporting enterprises, employment and incomes; protecting workers in the workplace including occupational safety and health; and, using social dialogue between government, workers and employers to find solutions.

The government of the Philippines have taken several actions within these four pillars, including employers and workers organizations at the onset of the pandemic.

The Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines serves as an integrated roadmap, which the ILO fully supports. Government, employers and workers through strong social dialogue have outlined priorities for inclusive growth and sustainable recovery focusing on employment, labour market governance and social protection.

From the ILO perspective, corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct contribute to the decent work agenda, and promote economic and social progress.

Beyond COVID-19, the business sector can do a lot more to make a difference in the achievement of  the country’s national development and of the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The government takes an important role to create an enabling environment as well as key policies and actions that can guide and encourage businesses of all sizes to initiate and/or improve their CSR activities.

Such framework should cover the multi-dimensional aspects of CSR that include human rights, labour and employment practices, environmental issues, promotion of social and environmental responsibility through the supply chains, community involvement and development, disclosure of non-financial information, among other elements.

The framework should harmonize the different international CSR policy instruments such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy or the MNE Declaration, among others. More importantly, it should underpin International Labour Standards in CSR policies.

We, at ILO, are indeed hoping that your presence and support will increase the momentum to advance the contribution of the business sector to build back better after the pandemic through responsible business practices.

We are in this together. No single group, country or region can address the challenges of the pandemic alone. We can do this through strong social dialogue, solidarity and cooperation. We must not miss this opportunity to rapidly respond and build a better future of work together!

Thank you!