Turning to national and global workforce investigations and high-profile inquiries into corruption, harassment, modern slavery, and other workplace issues related to human rights abuses, the program will expand upon what corporate leaders need to keep in mind as they assess risks associated with a global workforce, especially in the context of transactions. The discussion will include an explanation of the evolution of soft law, like the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UNGPs”) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (as recently amended), to hard law, which ranges from “name and shame” frameworks like the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act to mandatory human rights due diligence obligations under France’s Duty of Vigilance, Germany’s Act on Corporate Due Diligence, and the European Union’s long-awaited but imminent Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
The panelists will provide guidance on how companies can create policies—like a global code of conduct or business ethics policy—that resonate across borders and effectively address legal risks in various jurisdictions. They will also discuss new risk considerations for directors and officers in the workforce context coming out of the recent McDonald’s decisions, such as board fiduciary obligations to oversee workplace and workforce protections, and officers’ duties to monitor operations within their company-specific silo and collect data for presentation to the board. The panelists will illuminate why it so important, not just from a legal and policy standpoint, but also from a business perspective, to get this right.
The program will feature perspectives from Margaret Egan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and Mara Davis, Associate General Counsel, Compliance & Ethics, at Zoom—two panelists who work in-house at large, multinational corporations that are active in the transactional space and operating across the globe. These experts will explain how they are dealing with the dynamics described above on a daily basis and how their respective companies have been able to maintain a cohesive workplace culture despite a growing global workforce, and in the context of hybrid work environments that make personal connection more challenging. They will provide advice on how to set the tone from the top and create a cohesive understanding of corporate culture, especially as new entities are acquired and company reach expands globally. Specifically, they will share their experiences working to create effective community and mentoring/apprenticeship opportunities in a hybrid environment and explain how these efforts dovetail with efforts to address workplace misconduct, such as adequately training investigators even in the context of remote work. Finally, they will draw upon their diverse in-house initiatives to provide examples of how to combat human trafficking, protect staff and supply chain workers from human rights abuses (including sexual harassment), and conduct due diligence in vendor procurement. They will share unique practical suggestions like implementing physical accommodations such as alarm buttons and creating an effective operational-level grievance mechanism as required by the UNGPs.
Together with Egan and Davis, the other panelists—Ally Coll, the founder and CEO of The Purple Method; Harry Jones, a shareholder at Polsinelli; and Charlotte May, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP—will thread these diverse topics together to address how to build a culture of trust and transparency and encourage employees to speak up about workplace issues, even in a remote or hybrid environment. Attendees will leave with an understanding of recent changes in the law; best practices for risk assessment and allocation in the M&A context; and practical changes in workplace investigations, like the use of e-discovery tools and effective reporting channels to ensure that employees and other workers feel safe and protected from retaliation, regardless of where they physically work.
The program will close with a reminder about the upsides of the growing global and hybrid workforce from a company culture, ethics, and business compliance standpoint. The hope is to leave attendees with practical ideas about how to create safe and empowering workplaces, for their own benefit and in order to advise clients on how to do the same.