Organizing for Decent Work and Economic Growth
Thursday, December 9th, 2021 at 3:00- 4:30 pm CET/9AM EDT
The International Labor Organization —the first institution of the United Nations system— states in its Declaration of Philadelphia that “Labor is not a commodity.” Building on this theme, the 23rd article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” In 2005, the UN committee on economic, social and cultural rights, elaborated on this article by defining decent work as “work that respects the fundamental rights of the human person as well as the rights of workers in terms of conditions of work safety and remuneration.” And, in 2015, the UN adopted as its eighth Sustainable Development Goal “[Promoting] sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” Faced with today’s multidimensional crisis brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, how to ensure the right to decent work and how to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth are more urgent and relevant questions than ever.
Current systemic indicators for wealth and growth are heavily centered on profit for shareholders, not for people nor for the planet. Workers are subjected to the decisions of shareholders and board members, particularly when it comes to hiring decisions, firm goal-setting, salary negotiations, and human resource assessments. More often than not, this status quo leaves workers in a disadvantaged position, with their livelihoods jeopardized by the pursuit of untenable economic growth that has had equally disastrous consequences on the environment.
In this session, we will discuss the need for a radical rethinking of our concept of growth and for worker representation in corporate decision-making that affects employees’ working conditions. The themes that will be discussed include (i) the implementation of democracy in the workplace through power-sharing mechanisms, (ii) the necessity of adequate, meaningful worker representation, (iii) the urgent need for an ecological and social transformation of our corporate systems and of our approach to measuring growth at the international level, and (iv) what it will take to make such a transformation happen.
The panel for this session will be moderated by Professor Julie Battilana of Harvard University, and will include experts with broad perspectives on the challenges of fulfilling SDG 8 on reduced inequality with growth in jobs and other economic, societal, and environmental outcomes. Our panelists are Ibon Antero Intxausti (Mondragon), Prof. Tiziana Casciaro (University of Toronto), Prof. Isabelle Ferreras (University of Louvain and F.N.R.S.-F.R.S.), and Michele Zanini (Management Lab).
Ibon Antero Intxausti is coordinator for social transformation activities in MONDRAGON. He is working to connect the Mondragon Cooperative Experience with the emerging social and environmental needs, and continue being a global reference in the field of socio-economic development and an innovative ecosystem based on cooperation that responds to the major challenges of the 21st century. He is BSc. Industrial Mechanical Engineering (TECNUN) and holds an MBA from the Mondragon University specializing in cooperativism. His career is connected to the Mondragon Cooperative Experience, starting as a research engineer in IKERLAN Research Center and then as Senior manager in cooperation for development programs at MUNDUKIDE Foundation, fostering new ways of sharing the Mondragon cooperative knowledge and experience with community based organisations over the world.
Julie Battilana is a joint professor at Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is also the founder and faculty chair of the Social Innovation and Change Initiative. Her research has been featured in the Boston Globe, Forbes, Huffington Post, the Guardian, Harvard Business Review, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She is the author of two books: The Working Manifesto, co-authored with Isabelle Ferreras and Dominique Méda (Forthcoming, University of Chicago Press, originally published in French by Le Seuil, 2020), and Power, for All: How it Really Works and Why It Is Everyone’s Business (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021), co-authored with Tiziana Casciaro.
Tiziana Casciaro is a professor of organizational behavior at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto. Her research has received awards from the Academy of Management and has been covered in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Economist, CNN, and more. She’s the co-author, with Julie Battilana, for the new book Power, for All; How It Really Works and Why It’s Everyone’s Business (Simon & Schuster, 2021).
Isabelle Ferreras is a sociologist (PhD Louvain 2004), and a political scientist (MSc MIT, 2004). She is a senior tenured fellow (maître de recherches) of the Belgian National Science Foundation (F.N.R.S.-F.R.S., Brussels), a professor of sociology at the University of Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) and a senior research associate of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA). Currently, Ferreras serves as President of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts of Belgium. She is a co-leader of www.DemocratizingWork.org. Among her books are Democratize Work. The Case for Reorganizing the Economy, co-edited with Julie Battilana and Dominique Méda (Forthcoming, University of Chicago Press, originally published in French by Le Seuil, 2020), and Firms as Political Entities. Saving Democracy through Economic Bicameralism (Cambridge UP, 2017).
Michele Zanini is a cofounder of the Management Lab, where he helps large organizations become more adaptable, innovative and engaging places to work. He is the co-author, with Gary Hamel, of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them (Harvard Business School Press, 2020).