São Paulo, 29 November 2019: Work is the engine at the center of our economies. It lies at the heart of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Vision 2050 where over 9 billion people live well, within the limits of the planet, and is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
However, the world of work is being disrupted. The combination of rapid technological evolution, socio-economic polarization and disillusionment of the workforce could lead to jobless growth, income inequality and social instability at a global scale. If businesses don’t act, they will be unprepared for these challenges and unable to realize the opportunities of building a stronger business in a thriving society.
By 2030, almost 16 million jobs could be lost in Brazil because of automation (source: McKinsey), representing 14% of the country's current workforce. Problems such as unemployment, underemployment and inequality have been worsening in recent years. In this context, BCSD Brazil (CEBDS) organized a session in São Paulo aiming to address the challenges and opportunities for Brazil, in view of underscoring how business can be part of the solution in contributing to a future with workforces that are secure, motivated, skilled and prepared for the challenges that come next.
The event, hosted by WeWork, was part of a Quebrando Muros ("Breaking Walls") series that took place across 2019 with the aim of addressing topics that are not only aimed at the sustainability areas of companies, but that are cross-cutting in their nature such as the future of work.
The session featured the following speakers:
- Sylmara Requena, Director of Human Resources, Siemens
- Carol Romano, Founding Partner, Maker Brands
- Igor Ferreira, Director of WeWork Learning
- Filippo Veglio, Managing Director, People Program, WBCSD
- Ana Carolina Avzaradel Szklo, Technical Development Director CEBDS
In terms of session highlights, WBCSD outlined how business can respond to the megatrends that are reshaping the global relationship between people and companies, which most notably point to the fact that while the quality of employment in some sectors has significantly improved (in part due to labour standards and regulations), vulnerable forms of employment account for over 40% of total employment. In low and middle-income countries, the number of people in working poverty is expected to increase by 3 million within the next two years. In addition, the global unemployment rate will likely rise, as the quantity of jobs cannot absorb the growing global labor force. The nature of work is also changing, as flexible arrangements can allow employees to have a say over how, where, and when they work. However, informal employment can also expose employees to unsafe work conditions, absence of social benefits, and lack of legal protections.
Panelists highlighted business solutions that support a people-centered growth are crucial to counter the risks of jobless growth, income inequality and social instability – in Brazil and beyond.
The Director of Human Resources at Siemens, Sylmara Requena, highlighted the human component, which in her view will be fundamental in this future of work. "In the 19th century, we hired arms. In the 20th century, the search for brains began. The focus of the 21st century is the heart. We need the whole human being with human characteristics such as creativity and the ability to improvise”, she argued.
But in a country with an educational deficit, how can we prepare young people to enter the labor market? Moderator Igor Ferreira addressed the most sought-after competencies, according to a LinkedIn survey, in which five of the main features are focused on the area of technology. "We have a big educational deficit. Only 40% of technical education graduates work in their area of training, for example. How can we address these problems? How can companies cover this gap?".
Requena advocated for the importance of partnerships with universities and the need for investment in education. "Everything we do on the sustainability tripod is geared towards education. Education is what moves. We have to work with people knowing how to ask questions. In Brazil, there is that story of preparing for the interview with what the interviewer would hear. It is essential to be yourself, because we want those who complement. The population needs to be ready to add up and the university is a very important partner."
For her part, Carol Romano highlighted the development of more human characteristics. "Who took an education or emotional literacy class? We learn that because we're human. It is necessary to involve the employee, so that he likes what he does and feels part of the result. The companies that understand that they are learning platforms are the companies of the future."
BCSD Brazil (CEBDS) is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Global Network, an alliance of more than 60 CEO-led business organizations worldwide. The Network, encompassing some 5,000 companies, is united by a shared commitment to provide business leadership for sustainable development in their respective countries and regions.
- Watch the recording of the Future of Work session in São Paulo
- WBCSD’s Future of Work hub, which includes numerous examples from WBCSD member companies addressing future of work challenges in innovative ways
Matheus Zanon, Press Officer, BCSD Brazil / CEBDS