Dear colleagues, partners and friends.

Distinguished representatives from the business, government, media, and non-for-profit sector,

Everyone who has taken the time to be with us here today,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Inclusive Business Forum 2019. The event is part of the En Xanh/Blue Swallows program, which was initiated by UNDP, VCCI, CSIP and VUSTA.

Dear friends,

After 70 years of the creation of the United Nations, all countries unanimously adopted the historical Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which are applicable to all countries, regardless developed or least developed, big or small. They all are committed to the implementation of the SDGs.

We in UNDP believe in leaving no one behind. That is the best and the only way forward to achieving sustainable development and protecting our single planet.

Many Vietnamese businesses are already greening their investments, generating decent jobs, creating opportunities to reduce inequalities in the workforce and challenging stereotypes, including for Persons with Disabilities and LGBTI persons.

UNDP is proud of having strong partnership with business partners to build diversity and inclusion in the workforce in Viet Nam. Today, we gathered such partners and business leaders to this Inclusive Business Forum 2019, to hear and learn from those who have made important steps, and encourage others to join.

For today event, I would like to share with you three points on why we need the Inclusive Business in Viet Nam and why now.

  • first, to underline the important role of the private sector in achieving the SDGs
  • second, the diversity and inclusion will bring about new market niche, innovation and productivity for business
  • and third: Where to start and what we need to embrace diversity and inclusion

First, we cannot achieve the ambition of the SDGs by 2030 without the active participation of business.

This is simply because businesses account for 70-80% of global economy, they not only play a key role in generating wealth and jobs, they can also make essential contributions to address many emerging and interconnected challenges, such as climate change and inequality.

In Viet Nam, more than 700,000 small and medium sized enterprise (SMEs) account for 98.5% of the businesses, and SMEs contribute about 40% of GDP and create approximately 70% of decent jobs. Viet Nam will need their full participation and contribution to leapfrog to the next stage of development.

There is a growing awareness among people that businesses have responsibilities toward society and the environment, beyond just voluntary acts of kindness. These responsibilities are recognized in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, where we call on businesses to help driving social impact through their practices.

We have many good examples around the world, Accenture, Baker McKenzie, KPMG, S.A.P. and IKEA, have adopted new global standards taking human rights-based approach in being a responsible business and addressing discrimination against LGBTI people.

Therefore, we have strong ground to believe that we can count on businesses for their innovation, partnership and leadership to embrace diversity and inclusion, contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

Secondly, diversity and inclusion bring about new market niche, innovation and productivity for businesses

McKinsey estimates that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

Diversity trigger new ideas and innovations. With a diverse work staff, from diverse background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and people with a disability, businesses can tap into a pool of new talents and innovative ideas to keep up with rapidly changing markets.

Embracing diversity and inclusion, will also help business to open new products and service lines and get access to new market niches.

There is the growth of diversity and inclusion globally, however there remain barriers in Viet Nam. A study conducted by iSEE and UNDP in 2016 found that on average 30 percent of LGBTI respondents in Viet Nam reported being denied employment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Furthermore, in the 2018 report, Ending Stigma, 66% of persons with disabilities stated they had never even taken a job interview, and of those who had, 54% reported that they had been denied a job because they had a disability

For Viet Nam’s continued economic growth, it is crucial fully embrace this new way of doing business – embrace diversity and inclusion, which will also help and reduce inequalities with vulnerable groups.

Thirdly, where to start and what we need

Practice has proven that business can start small and it does not involve huge cost to your company.

But it requires strong vision and leadership from senior management, you can change the entire business culture by embracing a policy of diversity and inclusion.

Under the inclusivity price campaign, for which the award ceremony will be awarded on 25 October in Ha Noi, all the applications received are excellent across all sectors including agriculture, tourism, food and drink etc. providing a variety of examples on creative ways in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Today you will be presented with both great admission and practices on where to start and how diversity and conclusion can bring about great success to your business.

With that, again I would like to offer my deepest appreciation to our business partners with us here today and our partners on the Blue Swallows initiative. We look forward an engaging this morning, exploring how businesses have grown diversity and inclusion in Viet Nam, and looking at how we can spread the message to other businesses, in making Viet Nam not just a good country to do business, but a country where business does good.

Thank You, Xin Cam On

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