On January 18, the UN Global Compact Network Georgia and the publisher of Economist magazine in Georgia, Georgia Today Group, held a Forum on Business and Human Rights at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace Hotel.
Salome Zurabishvili, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Georgia Network; Giorgi Sharashidze, founder and General Manager of Georgia Today Group; Tinatin Genebashvili, National Program Officer at the Embassy of Sweden in Tbilisi; and General Manager of Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace, Iva Trifonov delivered the welcome speeches at the event.
“It’s a great honor and a pleasure for me as a publisher of the Georgia Today newspaper and the founder of Georgia Today Group to be amongst the main partners of such an important event, one that is dedicated to a discussion of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said George Sharashidze.
“The main areas we aim to touch upon during this forum are diversity in the workplace and marketplace; how to promote diversity in the business sector, and also how to ensure a decent working environment for the employees of the companies based in Georgia,” Salome Zurabishvili noted.
During the first part of the event, Niko Tatulashvili, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Issues, presented business and human rights at the policy level in Georgia. He shared interesting insights into what the government is doing and how business and human rights is integrated into the human rights strategy, as well as the action plan the government is to start working on in the upcoming months.
The goal of Georgia’s human rights strategy is to establish a systematic approach that ensures the fulfilment of human rights obligations in everyday life and ensures that all people in Georgia understand the essence of their rights and are able to exercise them to achieve greater prosperity and dignified life.
Tatuashvili highlighted that this is impossible to accomplish if the business sector does not actively participate. He also mentioned learning courses on the subject that are to be offered on a regional level in the near future.
The second part of the event was devoted to panel discussions. Invited speakers from the private sector talked about the implementation of SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, with a focus on Georgia, on the first panel, while the second panel was dedicated to a discussion on creating a diverse and inclusive environment in the workplace.
Salome Zurabishvili led the first panel as a moderator, and guest speakers included Nikoloz Khundzakishvili, Corporate Affairs Director of Efes Georgia; Gvantsa Murghvliani, Head of Human Capital Management Department at TBC Bank; Ana Kukhaleishvili, Head of Business Development and Administration at Bim Cube; and HR Director of GPI Holding, Nino Khachapuridze. All shared their experiences and opinions on corporate responsibility with regards to human rights.
“Human rights are very intertwined and closely related to the economy; how companies and countries develop. All of us have a responsibility in our scope to use everything that is available to us to create working spaces for people to have good opportunities and a healthy work environment,” said Khachapuridze.
“Gender equality is very important to us, especially in the field of IT technologies,” Murghvliani noted. “Currently, at TBC, technologies are represented by more than 30% females, and we are encouraging more and more girls and women to be a part of this direction.”
“As a takeaway from this event, I can say that we, the big companies, should share our experience, especially with the small and medium enterprises, for them to have a good understanding of how these policies will contribute to their development,” Khundzakishvili stated in rounding up the first panel.
UNDP Human Rights, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Unit Manager Lela Akiashvili was moderator on the second panel, which welcomed Rector of Business and Technology University, Nino Enukidze; Anano Dolaberidze, CEO & Co-Founder of Phubber; and Managing Partner of BDO Georgia, Zurab Lalazashvili.
“We firmly believe that the role of businesses in achieving sustainable development goals is vital, and there is no way these results could be achieved without business participation,” Akiashvili noted following the discussion.
“The representatives shared really valuable experience regarding sustainability, and all the documentation, all the legislation, which works in their organization,” Enukidze added. “I was happy to be among the panelist members, and I do hope that the sustainability discussion will continue so as to cover organizations in the regions too.”
The Forum on Business and Human Rights was held within the framework of the UN Global Compact Georgia Network project Leadership for Sustainable Development in Georgia, with the support of the Swedish government. Georgia Today and Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metekhi Palace were partners of the event.