Introductory Remarks by Angel Gurría
30 September 2020 - Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Ambassadors, dear Emmanuel, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered today for a discussion with business leaders from the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) Platform, to bring you up to date with the achievements of the platform so far, and the way forward.
Let me start by saying how pleased I am that this is already our third meeting since June. The current crisis has emphasised the importance of the private-public alliance, and we are rising to the task. The objective of this dialogue is to build stronger transparency and inform about B4IG activities among OECD Members.
Established during the 2019 G7 Summit and under the aegis of the French President Emmanuel Macron, the alliance has expanded to forty multinationals whose CEOs signed the “Pledge to Fight Against Inequalities” with commitments to: (1) advance human rights; (2) build inclusive workplaces; and (3) strengthen inclusion in value chains and business ecosystems.
Most recently, Microsoft, CapGemini and Salesforce have joined the B4IG Coalition, which, by now, has a significant socio-economic footprint worldwide. Indeed, members have a total turnover exceeding USD 1.4 trillion, with 4.4 million employees.
In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, the stakes are high and demand urgent action. The private-public alliance is critical now more than ever to address inequalities and create opportunities for all. It is central to a strong and more inclusive recovery.
In response to COVID-19, B4IG companies have embraced bold strategies in line with the B4IG pledge. In Pledge Area #2, which focuses on building inclusive workplaces, many companies in the Coalition have worked hard to minimise business disruption, while ensuring a Safe Working Environment and Work-Life Balance for their employees.
For example, Accenture created a virtual B2B (business-to-business) initiative to connect companies that urgently need people with those that have people available.
In Pledge area #3, which focuses on strengthening inclusion in company value chains & ecosystems, many B4IG companies made donations (in kind or financial) to support communities where they operate. For example, BASF, Legal & General, and Unicredit donated hundreds of millions of euros to COVID-19 emergency charity funds, hospitals and research centres.
Moreover, over the last months, we have seen a number of impactful achievements that set B4IG apart from other initiatives. These include:
As a Strategic Partner, the OECD works with B4IG companies to help them comply with OECD guidelines and established standards, while drawing from OECD research to support B4IG’s implementation of the Pledge.
Our support ensures that the B4IG initiatives are well aligned with public policy perspectives in OECD countries. It also allows our Organisation to provide continuing feedback on what is efficient, and where improvements could be made.
The OECD helps by bridging policy and corporate worlds and by producing substantive notes to promote the use of OECD standards, guidelines and research. We also ensure that a dialogue is established between OECD and B4IG experts in the areas of the Pledge, for example on grievance mechanisms, impact measurement and the future of work.
Looking ahead, in the run up to the meeting of the Board and the Paris Peace Forum in November, B4IG aims to launch the Market-place of the Inclusive Growth Financing Forum.
This will establish a robust platform that will help survey existing private, philanthropic and public financing mechanisms for inclusive growth. It will also allow us to assess how to build greater synergies, deploy new financing tools and generate additional funding streams for inclusive growth.
Before giving the floor to Emmanuel, I would like to also thank two noteworthy business leaders of B4IG companies, who were not able to join us today (after all it’s the middle of the night in the U.S.!), but still wanted to partake in a video message: Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture, and Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The COVID-19 crisis is reversing our global efforts to promote inclusion. Poverty and inequalities are growing again in many countries. At the same time, it is giving us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redesign our economies, our business models, our international co-operation schemes and tools.
This is the time for stepping up our efforts, the time for governments and businesses to join forces, the time to build the foundations of more inclusive and sustainable growth. It is the time for innovative initiatives such as B4IG to be bold and make a difference.
When public policies ally with business strategies, anything is possible. The OECD stands ready to boost this alliance. Let’s keep working together to build back better!
Emmanuel, the floor is yours. Thank you.