A Memorandum of Understanding to increase the inclusion of labour rights issues in business education has been signed by the ILO, the Global Business School Network and the Geneva School of Economics and Management of the University of Geneva.
Press release – 02 December 2022
GENEVA – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), designed to strengthen collaboration on business and human rights education has been signed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Global Business School Network (GBSN) and the Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM) of the University of Geneva.
By bringing together the ILO and a global network of business schools who are committed to transforming business education, the MoU will create opportunities to pool academic, policy-oriented and practical expertise on key labour issues that affect responsible business conduct; including child labour, forced labour, discrimination, lack of workers’ representation, social dialogue, labour migration and fair recruitment. The intention is to develop a comprehensive toolbox of resources and equip business schools with accurate, relevant material to teach 21st century management skills to their students.
The collaboration between the ILO and these leading academic institutions in the field of business and human rights is intended to extend beyond the MoU. It has already led to the development of teaching materials on forced labour in the fishing industry. A technical workshop was held at the University of Geneva in November, with business school educators, ILO experts, and representatives of the fishing industry and business and human rights from Indonesia, Ghana and South Africa.
More technical workshops, on the fair recruitment of migrant workers and other relevant topics, are planned.
“It will not be enough to form a new generation of human right lawyers, or to include optional courses on human rights in selected curricula. We need future business leaders equipped with the tools, knowledge, and expertise to recognize and address the changing realities of the word of work in a fair and just manner.Manuela Tomei, Assistant Director General (ILO).
“As the oldest UN agency with a mandate on protecting labour rights and advancing social justice, the ILO works with governments, workers and employers’ organisations to address new challenges of the world of work,” said Manuela Tomei, ILO Assistant Director General for Governance, Rights and Dialogue. “The new generation of business leaders are key to shape fair and inclusive economic growth. We are very happy to join forces with the University of Geneva and the Global Business School Network to promote labour and human rights as core elements of business education”
“It will not be enough to form a new generation of human right lawyers, or to include optional courses on human rights in selected curricula. We need future business leaders equipped with the tools, knowledge, and expertise to recognize and address the changing realities of the word of work in a fair and just manner,” Tomei added.
“At the University of Geneva we are uniquely positioned to support an exchange of knowledge and ideas between academia and International Organizations in Geneva”, said Yves Flückiger, Rector of the University of Geneva. “Our Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights is the ideal institution to ensure that the ILO’s expertise on international labour rights is integrated in business school teaching and research. To address human rights challenges in business and advance human rights in practice, it is foundational to train future leaders”.
“To address human rights challenges in business and advance human rights in practice, it is foundational to train future leades”Yves Fückiger, Rector of the University of Geneva.
“To make a meaningful difference in addressing complex human rights challenges worldwide, business schools must work together and connect across sectors,” says Dan LeClair, CEO of GBSN. “Our commitment for this MoU is to make sure that happens.”
“To make a meaningful difference in addressing complex human rights challenges worldwide, business schools must work together and connect across sectors.”Dan LeClair, CEO of GBSN.
The Geneva School of Economics and Management at Geneva University hosts the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights (GCBHR), the first Human Rights Center at a European business school.
The Global Business School Network has been leading global discussions on business and human rights in business education through its dedicated impact community
Businesses face new and complex global challenges that their executives need to navigate to ensure success. Increasing consumer awareness on human and labour rights, investment requirements on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, and a growing number of due diligence laws, require human rights expertise and new management skills.
Students are demanding that their business schools adapt quickly to these developments by incorporating human rights, including labour rights, into their curricula. They are also asking to be equipped with the necessary skills to take up their role as responsible business managers, decision makers, and global citizens.
Aligning Business School Education and Business Practice
The example of a teaching tool on responsible management practices to address forced labour in the fishing industry will be an illustration for how the ILO can work with business schools to integrate their practical expertise on labour rights with management education in academia. Closing the gap between academia and business practice is relevant for both advancing labour rights in corporate practice and ensuring future business success.