Economic growth alone is not enough to ensure equity, social progress and to eradicate poverty. All employees around the world should have decent working conditions. However, child labour and forced labour still persist today as global supply chains extend to distant regions. Hazardous workplaces continue to exist and discrimination remains a challenge.

Companies need to uphold labour standards across their own operations and value chains. Decent work involves employment that is productive and delivers a fair income. It also should ensure workplace security, social protection, better prospects for personal development and social integration. Businesses should also focus on non-discrimination, equal opportunities and treatment (including for men and women), and freedom to express workplace concerns.

Substandard working conditions are often related to poverty, inequality and discrimination. In many contexts, certain groups – such as workers with disabilities, women workers, and youth and older workers, among others – face particular obstacles in accessing decent work and may be especially vulnerable to abuses.

Decent work is good for society and for business. Companies with non-discriminatory practices and that embrace diversity and inclusion have greater access to skilled, productive talent. They also face a lower risk of reputational damage and legal liability.

Improving workplace practices beyond legal compliance can result in higher morale and job satisfaction, and foster creativity and innovation. Partnering with workers and upholding freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining can contribute to more effective industrial relations. In value chains, this can also lower social auditing costs. Helping to tackle youth unemployment can also be an important contribution to peace and a more stable business environment.

The UN Global Compact’s labour principles (Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6) are championed by the International Labour Organization (ILO). We provide guidance and support to address a range of issues, including child labour, forced labour and discrimination. We also help companies address issues of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Much of our work also falls under our Human Rights and Supply Chain activities.

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