It is obvious that we have adopted a different way of living in the new normal due to COVID-19. At the same time, we are experiencing a development in societies as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. Will this also have an impact on the new normal and on conducting business internationally?
It should be noted that a while ago the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has drawn up due diligence guidelines for multinationals. These guidelines provide support to multinationals in applying international corporate social responsibility standards. In 2011 a chapter on human rights was added to these guidelines.
As it appears, the EU has already been working on international corporate social responsibility standards for multinationals. In future these guidelines would probably be implemented in a (legal) framework of EU Member States’ national legislation. Black Lives Matter may just have speed up things as the EU Parliament has adopted a resolution on 19 June 2020 calling on EU countries to end racism and afro-phobic blackfacing.
The discussions that started shows a stronger awareness within companies. Such is evident from the reactions of companies such as Bank of England, Lloyd’s of London and Johnson & Johnson. It also teaches us that the issue does not only affect people with full or partial African descent. The Aboriginals, as an example, were granted human rights only in 1967. Before that they were apparently classified under a Flora and Fauna Act and it seems that they too have a long way to go.
The discussions also resulted in a stronger degree of reflection. Way back, a former colleague at the big-4 cone showed photos of black people working at a computer, taken during her stay in an African country. She commented “look how funny, black people working at a computer”. Today we all know that colored people are also well educated and working at a computer is a normal thing in African countries as well. In fact, once given the opportunity and with proper coaching they are able to play a significant role within their companies.
Considering the new social development, companies should evaluate their international corporate strategy more frequently. Corporate social responsibility is more than a catchphrase as “Please consider the environment before printing this email” or apologizing for the past or not selling certain products anymore. Isn’t the next logical step a stronger process of economic and cultural integration also in the foreign entities of your organization? A company helping local employees with their professional development by giving responsibility and the room for initiatives in their countries is part of international social entrepreneurship.
In the new normal, international corporate social responsibility, Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 will play an increasing role. Do you know what economic impact this will have in your company and the company’s expat policy?
For further discussions, you are welcome to contact a local global mobility specialist though our website www.unitedtaxnetwork.com
Siegfried R. Jagga President UTN Worldwide