Cars and discrimination
At the DEC (Durban Exhibition Center), the NGO headquarters you might say, several organizations present themselves. One of them is a combination of six companies, that have their headquarters in six different countries and continents.
Among these is the Swedish Volvo Car Corporation. Ms Kaarina Dubee, director of Corporate Diversity at Volvo, explains Volvo’s presence.
Why is Volvo here ?
‘Volvo is one of the companies that supports Kofi Annans initiative ‘ The United Nations Global Compact’. This initiative reaches beyond Governments and NGO’s. IT wants to involve companies around issues in human rights, labour standards. Mr Annan believes the world is not what it used to be. Trying to work only through governments is obviously not enough. It is needed to involve all sectors. Volvo believes this as well. If we work in partnerships, in some cases we can be more effective that when we work individually .’
Mary Robinson asked companies to be present and pass information to delegates. When they go home, both Governments and NGOs need to implement the programs of action. They should consider to involve local business too.’
Why does Volvo believe this too ?
For us it is obvious. In Sweden we are not a large company but an important one. We have been working with anti discrimination programs in our company for some years but this was not successful. It is an business issue as well. If we could work with Governments, NGOs, trade unions and local communications as well we believe we could be more successful and have more impact.
So this is the reason, it is good for our business and good for our community.
Why is this good for your business ?
If you are an discriminating company you do not use the full potential of good employers. The better you get at valuing diversity, the better you will be able at valuing people.
We try to achieve a culture change.
Is Corporate Social Responsibility a Volvo issue.
We have a corporate Citizenship. It is becoming more important for the company to become more aligned with investors, employers, customers and the community.
How does this stakeholder principle show in South Africa, where we are now?
We are a very small market here, employing only 25 people. So this is not the place where we are focusing right now. In Sweden most people work, so we begin at home. Cleaning your own house first, you can say.
How transparent are you.
We are trying to become more and more transparent. This year we published our first Citizen Corporate ship report. In there you will find issues like environment, social issues and diversity. We say very openly that we are not very satisfied with what we reached so far. We are right now developing a strategy for change. Our management will be accountable for the change.
Does Volvo have a statement on issues like the development of far right parties in Sweden, your home base ?
You mean neo Nazi’s ? We are right now in the process of identifying the issues. As far as I know Volvo has not made a statement on that, but I think we should.
Is Volvo’s presence here a statement ?
We are not representing the whole business sector, we are making a statement for our own companies. But I am sure that we speak on behalf of many companies. Our statement is; don’t forget to involve business when you are fighting discrimination.
Many will say no, but the ones that say yes, will prove to be very valuable. Volvo is stimulating this process in Sweden.
This will be one of the pilots that come out of this conference. We are aiming to have a number of pilots around the world. Our colleagues from other companies are doing the same in their countries.
Other reactions to USA and Israel withdrawal
Canadian Secretary of State ms Hedy Fry declared that Canada regrets the withdrawal of the USA and Israel. Whether Canada stays or leaves will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis. Earlier the Canadians stated that some of the language in the documents is not acceptable. Referring to the Middle East
Present at the WCAR
USA should be leading not walking away
Mr Jackson condemned the USA withdrawal. He thought it ‘childish’ to walk away instead of finding solutions for real problems. According to Mr Jackson President Bush must be more engaged in reconciliation. He should bring Arafat and Sharon to the negotiation table. ‘If something is wrong, you talk it out’.
Mr Jackson pointed out that progress can only be achieved through engagement, not by walking out. He asked what will happen now with the great issues of our time.
QUOTES OF THE DAY:
‘I am not really a card kind of person’ (UN official on status of different passes)
'We left but we are staying.'
Contributions by others