This text initially was revealed within the BSR Perception.
Now that the outcomes of the US presidential election are in, it’s time to deal with what enterprise can do to advertise a coverage agenda that can speed up the transformation wanted to shift to a really simply and sustainable economic system.
The U.S. authorities has been both absent or counterproductive on sustainability points the previous 4 years. This can change in a Biden-Harris administration. How a lot it modifications will rely enormously on the actions and affect of the enterprise neighborhood.
BSR exists to catalyze enterprise management to realize a simply and sustainable world. We consider strongly that sustainability is a major supply of strategic enterprise benefit. We consider that complete enterprise motion requires corporations to “act, allow, and affect,” creating change each by means of actions within the “actual economic system” and likewise in advocating for coverage options. With a brand new authorities coming into energy, now could be the time for enterprise to make use of its voice and affect to name for decisive motion from a extra receptive administration in Washington.
With this in thoughts, right here is the agenda that BSR urges companies to name on the Biden administration to undertake, within the spirit of the marketing campaign’s “construct again higher” mantra.
It’s time to deal with what enterprise can do to advertise a coverage agenda that can speed up the transformation wanted to shift to a really simply and sustainable economic system.
Employment and financial
Repairing the security web: It’s time for enterprise to interact with authorities in remaking the social security web for the 21st century. 2020 has uncovered the intense holes within the security web, not least entry to well being care. It is usually time to develop a consensus on transportable advantages for individuals who change jobs or who work outdoors conventional jobs. Improvements such because the tax-deferred “401(j)” accounts proposed by Al Gore to permit workers to save lots of for lifelong studying additionally could be a superb step. These steps not solely would allow financial safety and mobility, additionally they would guarantee alternatives for innovation and a dynamic workforce that companies want.
Earnings inequality: t is gone time for Individuals to reverse the deep and widening inequality that plagues our nation. Whereas there are a number of causes for this drawback, three matters need to be made a precedence. First is the necessity to elevate the minimal wage to a stage that could be a real dwelling wage. This is able to each allow households to help themselves and likewise reward labor in an economic system during which capital has been rewarded greater than it needs to be. Second is govt compensation, which has continued to rise far too quick. It’s time for enterprise leaders to take voluntary steps to cut back govt pay and for boards to decide to the identical. Third, earnings inequality strikes communities of shade particularly arduous and all pathways to prosperity want to handle the wealth hole straight.
Future of labor: The altering nature of labor is accelerating because of the confluence of COVID-19 and automation. Contingent or non-traditional work is the quickest rising class of labor. There isn’t any consensus on the principles governing such work or common advantages folks can entry no matter how their work is assessed. Dialogue between enterprise, authorities and staff’ representatives is required to determine the principles of the highway.
Local weather and atmosphere
Web zero goal for the U.S.: Returning to the Paris Settlement will occur Jan. 20 — that’s solely the beginning. The U.S. ought to decide to a net-zero goal the best way that the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and others — together with many U.S. states and cities — have. The necessity for renewed local weather diplomacy, with the U.S. enjoying an important function together with the EU, China and Japan, couldn’t be extra vital within the run-up to COP 26.
Local weather justice/simply transition: Consciousness of the disparate impacts of local weather — primarily hitting communities of shade and people with much less formal training — implies that environmental justice ought to come to the forefront. The shift to net-zero is a generational alternative for progress, not solely eradicating probably the most poisonous parts of the prevailing power system but in addition producing financial alternatives within the clear power economic system as a method of combatting poverty and discrimination. Enterprise ought to insist that the transition to web zero embrace insurance policies that prioritize the part out of poisonous impacts on communities of shade, incentives for investments that make sure that the clear power economic system delivers coaching, and employment for individuals who want alternatives probably the most, in each rural and concrete communities.
Inexperienced infrastructure: Even with divided authorities, funding in inexperienced infrastructure is feasible as a method of producing employment at a time when it’s badly wanted and to cut back the working prices of U.S. infrastructure. Enterprise ought to advocate for constructed atmosphere and transport programs that speed up and put together for the online zero economic system. The lengthy debated Inexperienced Infrastructure Financial institution ought to turn out to be a actuality, not least with the rise of inexperienced and “olive” bonds. And that is additionally the place the place severe — and badly wanted — resilience targets might be achieved.
Regenerative agriculture: In the end, there’s mainstream recognition of the deep intersections of local weather, human well being and the vibrancy of America’s agricultural economic system. What’s extra, the political alternative to convey the nation collectively by means of heartland curiosity in thriving agriculture and coastal curiosity in local weather motion is one that would assist unify a rustic that’s divided in opposition to itself on local weather motion.
It’s time for enterprise to clarify that it needs and wishes sturdy help for human rights, with renewed motion from the White Home and State Division at a minimal.
Racial justice: The Biden marketing campaign made clear that racial justice was considered one of its 4 priorities, together with local weather motion, financial alternative and public well being. The truth is, these 4 matters are interrelated and needs to be addressed as such. The enterprise neighborhood ought to make it possible for the various statements of help for Black Lives Matter in 2020 are strengthened by a long-term dedication to make sure that decisive motion is taken to finish the centuries-long scourge of systemic racism. As famous above, the wealth hole that exists in communities of shade is a legacy of longstanding oppression. Steps taken to handle local weather, strengthen the social security web, restore public well being and put money into inexperienced infrastructure supply nice promise in addressing the wealth hole, and enterprise ought to help this goal vocally. As well as, enterprise additionally ought to clarify its help for felony authorized system reform, beginning with policing, but in addition together with entry to the court docket system and incarceration charges. Lastly, enterprise ought to name for obligatory disclosure of worker demographic info, which leverages transparency in help of larger fairness.
Know-how and human rights/privateness: It’s nicely understood that coverage strikes extra slowly than know-how. At a excessive stage, the U.S. authorities ought to set up the precept that new applied sciences ought to adhere to worldwide human rights requirements of their design, improvement and use. As well as, the U.S. authorities can introduce a federal privateness regulation alongside comparable strains to the GDPR, make sure that any revisions to Part 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 are in step with the safety of human rights, and introduce sector-based approaches to regulating disruptive applied sciences, reminiscent of synthetic intelligence, machine studying and biometric applied sciences. Corporations from all industries ought to advocate for a know-how coverage and regulatory context that protects interdependent rights reminiscent of freedom of expression, privateness, safety, freedom of meeting, non-discrimination, public well being and entry to treatment.
Restoring help for human rights and democracy: The U.S. authorities has supplied implicit and specific help for among the governments most answerable for the worst human rights abuses over the previous few years. The enterprise neighborhood shied away from calling this out the best way they challenged the Trump administration’s method to local weather. It’s time for enterprise to clarify that it needs and wishes sturdy help for human rights, with renewed motion from the White Home and State Division at a minimal.
Human migration and refugee insurance policies: The xenophobia unleashed within the first days of the Trump years have to be relegated to the previous. Enterprise persistently has known as for immigration insurance policies that allow the U.S. to welcome the breadth of human capability that comes from actually each nook of the world. That is wanted each for humanitarian causes, which converse for themselves, but in addition due to the constructive impression open societies have on financial vitality and innovation. What’s extra, this will even assist to revive America’s comfortable energy world wide, one thing that advantages U.S. companies and which has been critically broken since 2016.
Company governance reforms and itemizing necessities: It’s time for boards to replicate extra totally the world during which enterprise truly operates. This implies diversifying board composition. It additionally requires that so-called “non-financial” issues be embedded in company governance and itemizing necessities. A great first step in direction of integration of ESG into company governance could be enterprise advocacy for making the suggestions of the Activity Drive on Local weather-Associated Monetary Disclosures (TCFD) obligatory. This then might be prolonged to different steps together with obligatory human rights diligence, govt compensation and office range. All these steps will strengthen the resilience of enterprise and convey America’s buying and selling guidelines in sync with advances in Europe and elsewhere.
Restoring democracy: 2020 has made clear, but once more, of great structural flaws in American democracy. Enterprise associations stepped as much as name publicly for democratic processes to be honored — and have continued to name for this post-election. This stays vital as many have chosen to not honor the clear end result of the election. Regardless of this, American democracy seems poised to outlive within the wake of this uncommon election, however points stay. Enterprise ought to use its voice to name for reforms that tackle voter suppression, marketing campaign finance, gerrymandering and a judicial system contaminated by hyper-partisanship. This is a matter that many CEOs will search to keep away from for worry of showing to select sides, and that’s comprehensible. However the reforms known as for right here shouldn’t be seen that manner, as they’re vital for our system to perform, for all folks to have their voices heard and for religion within the system be restored.
2020 has made clear, but once more, that there are vital structural flaws in American democracy.
Guidelines-based buying and selling system with multilateral agreements: The U.S. was the first architect of the rules-based buying and selling system within the wake of World Warfare II and the first protector of that system over the previous 75 years. Whereas this method actually wants vital reforms, the previous 4 years have taken a scorched-earth method that leaves us no hope of managing an interdependent world nicely and pretty. Enterprise couldn’t have extra of a stake in restoring help for the idea of multilateralism and extra of a necessity to verify it’s match for objective within the 21st century.
Procurement: Lastly, enterprise ought to name on authorities to associate extra aggressively on procurement insurance policies. The U.S. authorities has immense buying energy and it isn’t getting used as totally because it might be to advertise the creation and effectivity of markets for sustainable services. That is additionally a uniquely beneficial method to tackle the wealth hole, with authorities partnering with BIPOC-owned companies as suppliers.
There shall be a time to get extra particular on coverage options. For now, nonetheless, it’s important to outline the areas the place progress is important. A lot of what’s advocated right here can be present in BSR’s name for enterprise motion to advertise a 21st century social contract.
The temptation to “return to enterprise as common” shall be sturdy for a lot of, however that will be a mistake. Constructing a simply and sustainable world by no means has been about opposing any single political chief. It at all times has been about constructing a future during which we will all thrive. It’s about what we’re for, not what we’re in opposition to.
After 4 years when the U.S. authorities did not embrace — and sometimes thwarted — the achievement of sustainable enterprise, the enterprise voice stays a strong device in creating an economic system that works for all.