SDG #8, Decent Work & Economic Growth

SDG #8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Economic growth alone is not enough to ensure equity, social progress and to eradicate poverty. All employees around the world should have decent working conditions. However, child labour and forced labour still persist today as global supply chains extend to distant regions. Hazardous workplaces continue to exist and discrimination remains a challenge.
Subordinate working conditions are often related to poverty, inequality and discrimination. In many contexts, certain groups – such as workers with disabilities, women workers, and youth and older workers, among others – face particular obstacles in accessing decent work and may be especially vulnerable to abuses.
Migrant workers are often liable to unfair recruitment and hiring practices, leaving them highly vulnerable to being taken advantage of. For many, the debt burden they carry from excessive recruitment fees and migration costs exacerbates this vulnerability and can lead to debt bond and forced labour.
Companies need to uphold labour standards across their own operations and value chains. Decent work involves employment that is productive and delivers a fair income. It also should ensure workplace security, social protection, better prospects for personal development and social integration. Businesses should also focus on non-discrimination, equal opportunities and treatment (including for men and women), and freedom to express workplace concerns.
Why should business support SDG8?
Decent work is good for society and for business. Companies with non-discriminatory practices and that embrace diversity and inclusion have greater access to skilled, productive talent. They also face a lower risk of reputational damage and legal liability.
Improving workplace practices beyond legal compliance can result in higher morale and job satisfaction, and foster creativity and innovation. Partnering with workers and upholding freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining can contribute to more effective industrial relations. In value chains, this can also lower social auditing costs. Helping to tackle youth unemployment can also be an important contribution to peace and a more stable business environment.
So, what can You and your company do?
Join and support the UN Global Compact
The UN Global Compact’s labour principles (Principles UN Global Compact, 4, 5 and 6) are championed by the International Labour Organization (ILO). They provide guidance and support to address a range of issues, including child labour, forced labour and discrimination. They also help companies address issues of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Much of their work also falls under their Human Rights and Supply Chain activities.
The ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are the main ILO instruments that can provide companies guidance on social policy and responsible labour practices. Check out available ILO resources and tools as well as Questions and Answers (Q&As) and useful links on:
  • Child labour 
  • Collective bargaining 
  • Employment promotion 
  • Forced labour 
  • Freedom of association and the right to organize 
  • General policies 
  • Occupational safety and health (OSH) 
  • Security of employment 
  • Working time 
I would also like to encourage You to read “The Global Deal – The Business Case for Social Dialogue”
The Global Deal is about ensuring that more people around the world have secure and good jobs, and about a more equal distribution of our economic resources. Globalization presents opportunities, but requires a more equal distribution. More people need jobs with decent conditions and a salary they can live on. This is a prerequisite for globalization to be a positive force.
If you want to get inspired and be the change leader that you are, then read this useful links and start to act:

Roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about US$2 a day with global unemployment rates of 5.7% and having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty in many places. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty.

A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. Even though the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide is increasing year on year, there are still many countries in the developing world that are decelerating in their growth rates and moving farther from the 7% growth rate target set for 2030. As labor productivity decreases and unemployment rates rise, standards of living begin to decline due to lower wages.

Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working age population. There needs to be increased access to financial services to manage incomes, accumulate assets and make productive investments. Increased commitments to trade, banking and agriculture infrastructure will also help increase productivity and reduce unemployment levels in the world’s most impoverished regions.

Facts & Figure

  • The global unemployment rate in 2017 was 5.6%, down from 6.4% in 2000.
  • Globally, 61% of all workers were engaged in informal employment in 2016. Excluding the agricultural sector, 51% of all workers fell into this employment category.
  • Men earn 12.5% more than women in 40 out of 45 countries with data.
  • The global gender pay gap stands at 23 per cent globally and without decisive action, it will take another 68 years to achieve equal pay. Women’s labour force participation rate is 63 per cent while that of men is 94 per cent.
  • Despite their increasing presence in public life, women continue to do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do.
  • 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030.


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