Sometime in April this year, businesses in the United Republic Tanzania will be felicitated for playing their part in making the world better for humanity to live in.
Business mogul the late Dr Abraham Reginald Mengi, was way ahead of his time with initiatives which tried to make his IPP Group have a human face. While the former Chairman of Tanzania Private Sector Foundation may not have overly distinguished himself with other sectors, his beach clean-up operations, his desire to work with the abled differently and his bold take on systemic corruption all point towards a man who was already living the ethos of the UN Global Compact, whose aim is to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want.
Over the last two years, two women have emerged, from East Africa to the world and in both cases the word humanity has been used to describe their roles.
Ms. Joyce Msuya , a Tanzanian microbiologist and environmental scientist who, was appointed Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs since 2021.
The second woman is none other than Kenyan national, Sanda Ojiambo. Sanda is the Executive Director of United Nations Global Compact since 2020. While Ms Msuya is responsible for the global goodwill side of things humanitarian, Ms. Ojiambo is, from her New York City apartment, (for now), driving the need for businesses to not only behave ethically but incorporate sustainability into the DNA of their operations.
If sustainability for businesses sounds overly ambitious to you, wait until you hear more. In a webinar last Friday, the bubbly Ms. Ojiambo ,made reference to the 10 pillars of the United Nations Global Compact which make a strong point as to the why businesses can no longer sit back and do Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and, deem them to be enough.
“Heightened awareness about brands can lead to societal transformation and challenge stereotypes. It is not until businesses take a human face to global markets that we shall be achieving Sustainable Development goals in totality,” to paraphrase Ms. Ojiambo.
In that sense businesses need to take it upon themselves that their purpose for existence is not in any way in conflict with their need for profit and that in between that journey, they must do business with principle.
Those 3 P’s are at the core of what the United Nations Global Compact and so you know , the organization does have a local representation in over 100 countries around the world and in Tanzania in particular from where, the global ethos of doing business are being espoused to Tanzanian businesses .
To break this down, when businesses embrace Human Rights, their dealings in concert with fair labour practices and relations, will work towards a better, more prosperous world. You are talking about the brands Tanzanians are proud about, to mention but a few, Bakhressa, Mohammed Enterprise, CRDB ad infinitum.
All working to give labour a human face in what they do on a daily basis. How cool would that be?
Yet another example would be in the increasingly significant approach to bridging the gender gaps that we all know exist where, for instance, not all workers are paid the same for the same labour.
The global sporting world has been notorious of this conflagration paying women less for similar achievements as compared to male competitors.
The UN Global Compact has attracted 15,000 companies around the world which are driving towards attainment of SDG goals under this initiative and assessment, is self and voluntary rather than policed. It is up to the many businesses in Tanzania as it is elsewhere in the world, to decide whether their managements show a face that has a fair gender balance not just in management but also on boards at Directors level. This initiative is open to small, medium, start-up and large corporations.
What standards do you hold top Tanzanians brand to, as consumers and why? Is it because they pay top salaries? Do they have fair labour relations?
Is their gender balance at the top tier? Do those companies hold a candle to corrupt practices? These are some of the key tenets of doing business with a human face.
As Sanda Ojiambo leads UN GC take action now, we might help make Joyce Msuya have less and less to do in humanitarian assistance towards agenda 2030.