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Sustainability should always include Human Rights and Labour best practices

Sustainability should always include Human Rights and Labour best practices

In my last article, I wrote about the multi-faceted sustainability initiatives that our ECG programs encompass and although environmental initiatives are very much at the top of the pile in these times, we must never forget that issues relating to people, both in the workplace and in the world are also important and should never be ignored. We will shortly be celebrating our Human Rights Day in South Africa, a very important date in our calendar as the many rights that we now enjoy including equality for all were very hard fought for. At the same time, we also celebrate having crafted one of the finest constitutions in the world, something of which we can be very proud, but the reality is that for all that these things represent we still face some glaring inequality, human rights abuses and labour malpractices in the day-to-day workings of some businesses. This is exactly why “Human Rights” and “Labour” are two of the primary categories encompassing some of the seventeen initiatives that our “Sustainability development goals” aspire to achieve so let’s take a look at these.

Human rights

We have also recently celebrated International Women’s Day, an initiative very close to my heart and I’m sure for women everywhere who aspire to equality in every sphere of life. Gender equality was, therefore, an important part of the Human Rights initiatives that were discussed at the UN Global Impact conference I recently attended.  I’m proud to say that I believe gender equality is something that we have very much gotten right in the travel industry as it contains a very large contingent of women employees and managers at all levels. Equal pay at the same levels of seniority still attracts a lot of attention, as this is a gap we have still not managed to close worldwide. There are several other aspects to this Human Rights package however and these include the alleviation of poverty and hunger, good health and well-being which includes clean water and available clean energy for all – as well as Education for all.

Labour

The productivity of every business large or small rests on the effort of its labour force. Within the principles we set out as part of our ESG agenda are the belief that businesses should uphold “the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation”. Amongst the seventeen key sustainability initiatives are decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure and not only the elimination of gender inequality but also inequalities of any kind in the workplace. 

Working together, we strike the balance

There is no doubt that big business needs to include these initiatives in the Environmental and Social aspects of their ESG programs and together with the UN Compact and other international participants we can, working together, truly make a difference, even when (like in the case of poverty and hunger) we are facing a mammoth and sometimes daunting task. I concluded my last article by commenting on balance and how essential it is to achieve balance in all things. There is little point in environmental issues being addressed without holistically including all the other sustainability issues of corruption, human rights and labour, for what point would there be in creating a perfect planet without ensuring equality, dignity and a consciousness of all its people? This would indeed be a hollow existence, so let’s continue to work together as businesses and as individuals to ensure that, in our workplaces and our world, sustainability will always include Human Rights and Labour best practices!

LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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