PETALING JAYA: With the evolving landscape around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, many are struggling with the social component in their industries.
Although fresh sanctions from the United States Customs and Border Protection – due to allegations of forced and bonded labour – have focused on the rubber glove and palm oil industries in Malaysia, this is emerging as a key cross-sectoral issue that is also recognised as a complex one to grapple with.
The new regulatory environment in the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union has amplified pressure on more concrete action.
Malaysia too has recently launched its own National Action Plan on Forced Labour and ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention 1930, reaffirming its commitment to take action against forced labour in all of its forms.
Market expectations, such as those in the electronics, glove manufacturing and palm oil sectors, have kept in step with requirements set by governing bodies, with renewed focus on companies’ operations and supply chains.
This – coupled with the mounting scrutiny from non-governmental organisations, civil society, media and the like – highlights that a new way of working, rather than the business-as-usual model, needs to be embraced.
This change needs to happen not only in any one sector. There is no one solution that fits all, but various industries have stepped up to the challenge and are maturing with stronger commitments, while at the same time intensifying internal capacity-building and transformation projects on all things related to sustainability.
It is important to highlight that sustainability, and especially the topic of labour and human rights, is not primarily a destination or checkbox to tick; rather, it is a journey of continuous improvement towards respecting workers as fellow human beings.
Thus, it is imperative for businesses to collaborate with stakeholders, internally and externally, all across their value chains. Sharing of knowledge and best practices with industry peers is also encouraged to ensure companies are maximising impact together.
The hardest step is knowing how to start, but there is a multitude of resources available to help businesses achieve their goals.
To learn more, join The Star’s ESG & Labour Rights Symposium from 9am to 5pm on May 18 at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya, for an honest discussion on respecting and addressing labour rights in your operations.
The symposium, organised together with the Earthworm Foundation, will deep dive into the regulations space and key risks via the lens of various stakeholders.
Participants will be briefed on relevant tools and tactics that can be customised to fit their companies while continuing to build sectoral capacity on human rights.
The line-up of experts includes Alya Aisyah Fadil, business engagement manager at Earthworm Foundation, whose role is to support companies in finding solutions to environmental and social challenges all across the value chain; BK Sidhu, a journalist of 22 years who is currently a senior business editor with Star Media Group; Ken Yeong, business engagement manager at Earthworm Foundation, who has 10 years’ experience in sustainability and conservation; and Khai Yau Chua, senior programme manager at the Responsible Business Alliance, who has more than 20 years’ experience in corporate and international organisations specialising in government affairs, public policy and supply chain social responsibility.
Admission is RM1,300 per pax (inclusive of 6% SST); this is a Human Resource Development Corporation claimable event.
To register or find out more about the symposium, visit bit.ly/ESGLabour.