Amidst a global pandemic and an increased drive for sustainability across the globe, it is becoming increasingly vital for companies to align their operations with sustainable initiatives in response to escalating global demand for corporate responsibility. The path to economic recovery post COVID-19, and longevity, will require businesses to take a good look at their approach to human rights and environmental sustainability if they are to remain relevant and compliant to both local and global regulations.
To do so, a better understanding of human rights compliance in the context of company risk management needs to be developed, especially in relation to key export markets and where companies stand in comparison to global standards. Responsible business conduct is ever more important, especially when it comes to mitigating risks and avoiding complicity in labour rights issues as a result of non-compliance.
In Malaysia, progress towards a National Action Plan (NAP) and reporting measures are indicators of a push towards a sustainable future. At the same time, international pressure and global regulatory requirements have seen local companies hit with backlash or no-buy orders from the global market. This stresses the need for Malaysian companies to comply with these standards to mitigate such risks and communicate their practices more effectively and transparently to international stakeholders to create trust.
As such, it would be in the companies' interests to adopt sustainable business approaches for long-term profitability. Failure risks damaging brand value and recognition, while compliance (and beyond) helps companies manage risks and make their portfolio more resilient. Within the Malaysian context, there is incentive for local businesses to be more involved in the initial phases of the NAP to contribute their perspectives in the drafting of policies before these frameworks become mandatory, and the increased media publicity or improved reputation on a global scale provides more value for companies to step up and lead the next wave of sustainable strategies and initiatives.
Among challenges highlighted by businesses is the effectiveness of laws, policies, and regulations, both on a global and local level, if there is no enforcement or priority actions for companies to implement. A major stumbling block that has been repeatedly brought forth is the challenge to align both stakeholders and supply chain partners on the topic of human rights and sustainability.
There is difficulty in ensuring and enforcing compliance throughout the industry, due to a variety of factors (lack of standardized practices, weaknesses in governmental regulations, competitive pressures, and the desire to maximize profit etc.) Malaysian companies face hurdles in aligning with global standards for human rights and environmental compliance. This can result in negative value projected for stakeholders and investors alike, and a loss of competitiveness in key export markets when it comes to being at the forefront of driving business growth.
This online session focuses on sharing knowledge and tools on improving supply chain compliance in the context of human rights and the environment and serves as a follow-up to our previous "Business for Human Rights and the Environment" webinar.
It comprises two segments; the first segment will be a series of presentations by invited speakers to share on topics of their expertise related to the focus of improving supply chain compliance. The second segment is a panel discussion between the speakers, which will be moderated, and invites the speakers to share further thoughts, experiences, and lessons on the topic.