Annan calls business to make a stand against discrimination

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- It is vital that company heads send a consistent message that they will not tolerate discrimination in hiring or promotion practices and make clear that their companies will uphold human rights in their operations, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Saturday.
He was addressing participants in a Global Compact panel event with the theme, "Discrimination is Everybody's Business".
Annan said equally important was what happened from the bottom up, in day-to-day relations between supervisor and employee, between customers and suppliers and among colleagues.
Joining a panel discussion held during the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, he said that a company with a reputation as an enlightened equal opportunity employer would find it easier to attract high-quality employees.
It would also reap dividends in the eyes of increasingly rights-conscious consumers.
Such companies would also be more open to innovation and new ideas, and be seen as responsible members of the community in which they did business, he added.
Describing the workplace as one of the front lines, the Secretary General said discrimination on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, background and other qualities were all too common.
Statistics had amply documented phenomena such as unequal pay for equal work, the "glass ceiling" barring women from executive power and the lack of access to opportunities and services experienced by some groups, but not others.
Annan launched the Global Compact more than two years ago with the aim of improving the corporate citizenship in the areas of human rights, labour and environment.
A voluntary initiative, it was also a learning forum, he said, so that participating companies could show the way for others through enlightened leadership and creative partnerships.
Saturday's high-level dialogue was the first of three events planned during the World Conference to address the role of the private sector in combating discrimination and fostering diversity.

02 september 2001 10:52:00

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