"Investing in our common humanity through corporate social responsibility and socially responsible development are not marginal to our foreign policy but essential to the realization of our goals."
– Hillary Rodham Clinton
The State Department’s strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is exemplified in a comprehensive approach to providing support and guidance on areas of responsible corporate conduct. In line with the Secretary of State’s Economic Statecraft agenda to harness global economic tools to advance U.S. foreign policy goals, individual bureaus and offices play a leading role on particular initiatives, while ensuring effective coordination and partnerships with one another, U.S. embassies, business, civil society and other stakeholders. The following are examples of CSR in which the State Department is engaged.
There is a strong nexus between economic prosperity, respect for human rights and good corporate citizenship. The Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB) provides guidance and support for U.S. companies to undertake socially responsible corporate activities and ethical business practices that promote sustainable development and engages with business, trade unions, and civil society to adopt and implement exemplary corporate policies. In much of this work, the Department’s interaction with the private sector is done under the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and with EB’s U.S. National Contact Point for the Guidelines. The State Department promotes and recognizes exemplary CSR activities of businesses through the annual Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence, the ACE.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) offices of International Labor Affairs, Internet Freedom, and Business and Human Rights work with companies, civil society—including unions and NGOs—and governments to implement policies that respect human and labor rights and maximize positive contributions to global development. The Business and Human Rights team focuses on engaging stakeholders on practical challenges at the intersection of business and human rights and on leading U.S. government efforts to implement the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The team’s work includes: cementing emerging norms on business and human rights; demonstrating the value of credible multi-stakeholder systems; encouraging companies to implement human rights and internationally-recognized labor rights at every stage of their supply chain; and contributing solutions to urgent policy challenges that implicate business respect for human rights. EB’s Intellectual Property team works to protect intellectual property in ways compatible with human rights.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) works to combat human trafficking through partnering and engagement with business leaders, coalitions, and investor groups, particularly raising awareness and advancing implementation of the Luxor Guidelines, which focus on corporate policy, strategic planning, public awareness, supply chain tracing, government advocacy, and transparency to reduce forced labor in supply chains.
EB, in cooperation with DRL and others, coordinates the Department’s participation in the Kimberley Process to stem the flow of conflict diamonds and address traceability in supply chains. DRL promotes labor rights throughout the supply chain, including labor law enforcement, due diligence, strengthening legal advocacy, expanding livelihood opportunities, and advancing multi-stakeholder approaches. The TIP Office partners with Slavery Footprint to provide online tools to initiate marketplace action and ongoing dialogues between individual consumers and producers about modern slavery in supply chains.
Sector-specific CSR initiatives center on responsible resource management, energy efficiency, and climate change. The Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) leads the State Department’s work ensuring diplomatic relationships advance U.S. interests in access to secure, reliable, and ever-cleaner sources of energy. It promotes good governance and transparency in energy sector management and commercially viable and environmentally sustainable energy access to the 1.3 billion people currently without energy services. ENR supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an emerging global standard for revenue transparency in addition to other governance initiatives.
The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) advances U.S. policy goals in climate change, science and technology, health, water, environmental protection, biodiversity, oceans and polar issues, fisheries, and space policy. OES pursues CSR through initiatives involving the U.S. Water Partnership; partnering with the World Environment Center and corporations to help small business suppliers reduce pollution and emissions and improve their energy efficiency; and the Chlor-alkali Partnership to encourage conversion to non-mercury processes and promote sound storage options. OES works to stimulate private sector efforts to help meet countries’ commitments under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change’s Copenhagen Accord.
The Department recognizes reducing corruption is inherently linked to corporate and societal interests, particularly CSR. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) promotes anticorruption internationally and supports CSR through fostering clean business practices, engaging the business community in anticorruption efforts, and promoting a level playing field. INL supports adoption and implementation of multilateral standards, including the UN Convention against Corruption, and the President’s Kleptocracy Strategy including Denial of Safe Haven. EB represents the Department in the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions and also targets corruption through the Domestic Finance for Development (DF4D) initiative.
The State Department has partnered with the private sector to tackle a number of significant global challenges including the spread of HIV/AIDS and youth unemployment. The Office of the Secretary of State’s Global AIDS Coordinator coordinates U.S. government efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, including through implementing partnerships that combine public and private sector resources to accomplish HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment goals.
The Office of Global Youth Issues (J/GYI) coordinates youth policy Department-wide to empower young people around the world as economic and civic actors and works with private sector and civil society stakeholders to address global youth unemployment by encouraging youth-focused strategies in hiring and retention, skills training, job creation through entrepreneurship, and youth-focused CSR programs.
The Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) works to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. ECA facilitates public-private partnerships that strengthen economic growth and opportunity, technology, and youth, benefitting local communities in 165 countries.
The Office of the Secretary of State’s Global Partnership Initiatives forges strategic partnerships with businesses, philanthropies, foundations, universities, faith communities, diaspora groups, and individuals to further Departmental CSR goals and objectives.
The Office of the Secretary of State’s Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) supports the economic, social, legal and political empowerment of women and girls, including mitigating the impact of violence against women, addressing access to health and education, food security, and global problems such as climate change and ensuring that women are integrated in post-conflict reconstruction and development.