1999 NCC News ArchivesNCC Hails New Global Sullivan Principles, Announced Today
November 2, 1999, NEW YORK New "Global Sullivan Principles" for corporations, announced today, outline "exactly the kind of challenge companies should strive to meet," said the Rev. Dr. Joan B. Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, in a statement welcoming the principles.
These principles call on global corporations "to seek a higher goal than simply creating profits," she said. "Rather corporate conduct needs to be grounded in universal human rights and respect for the environment, employees and communities" whenever they do business around the globe.
The new "Global Sullivan Principles," announced this morning at the United Nations, were drawn up by the Rev. Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, who said he worked with a group of multinational corporations from three continents and a business association from Latin America to create the principles. "Throughout the process," he said, "input and support was sought and received from a broad group of NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and national governments."
Companies are asked to commit to eight principles, with the following stated objectives: "to support economic, social and political justice by companies where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment, including racial and gender diversity on decision making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical, supervisory and management opportunities; and to assist with greater tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers and children with dignity and equality."
The National Council of Churches and other religious groups have been pressing companies to change their policies and practices along this line for the last decade using their moral voice and leverage as shareholders. Numerous companies have begun responding to such initiatives. The full text of Dr. Campbell's statement follows:
Statement by Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
On the occasion of the official announcement of the Global Sullivan Principles presided over by His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
The official announcement of the Global Sullivan Principles at the United Nations today is a welcome and significant development. These Principles reflect the goals and aspirations of Dr. Sullivan for global corporations wherever they do business around the globe. They call on corporations to seek a higher goal than simply building profits. Rather corporate conduct needs to be grounded in universal human rights and ask with respect for the environment, employees and communities according to these Principles.
These Global Principles properly set standards that are both moral and achievable. For example, they ask companies endorsing the Principles to "compensate our employees to enable them to meet at least their basic human needs and provide the opportunity to improve their skill and capability in order to raise their social and economic opportunities."
This is exactly the kind of challenge companies should strive to meet. It is a disgrace when apparel, footwear, toy or electronic companies pay a poverty wage that does not allow an employee to adequately feed, clothe, or house their families. And unfortunately too many prestigious international companies still pay such poverty wages.
Sincere commitment by global corporations to the Global Sullivan Principles and the spirit that motivates them will be demonstrated by actions such as the following:
- Corporate transparency with meaningful reporting on actions taken.
- A corporate plan of action to translate these Principles into meaningful policies and practices that affect decisions from headquarters to local plants.
- An openness to independent monitoring, opening factory doors to outside review.
If companies grasp this challenge and build effective plans of action along these lines the spirit of the Global Sullivan Principles will move toward reality.
I salute Dr. Sullivan for his leadership and endless energy in promulgating and pursuing these principles.
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