UN seeks Israeli partners for corporate initiative

Delegates from 30 companies attended the conference.

united nations 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
united nations 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
Dozens of Israeli companies were wooed by the United Nations to join an international corporate responsibility drive, called Global Compact, during a conference Thursday at the Strauss Group's headquarters in Petah Tikva. The meeting, the first of its kind in Israel, was organized by the Maala Business for Social Responsibility association and received the endorsement of the Foreign Ministry. Corporate delegates heard a Global Compact representative deliver a seminar on the advantages of joining the initiative. The meeting was a success, since it attracted delegates from 30 companies and sparked enthusiasm for the UN program, Maala vice president Momo Mahadav told The Jerusalem Post. A broad range of Israeli businesses were represented, including some of the country's largest banks (Leumi and Hapoalim), law offices and manufacturers. Also present was Netafim, a global exporter of irrigation and farming equipment. "We are asking companies to sign a declaration of principles that form the basis to joining Global Compact," Mahadav said. "These are commitments to anticorruption practices, the international protection of human rights, making sure the companies are not complicit in human rights abuses, complying with international labor standards and a commitment to environmentally-friendly practices." After joining Global Compact, the companies are asked to submit an annual report to show how they are promoting the initiative's values, Mahadav said. "I think the most interesting aspect of this initiative is that the daily work practices of Israeli companies are beginning to have a global influence, and when that happens, their connections become global," he said. Joining the initiative would be good for Israeli companies, Mahadav said, because Global Impact "represents the values of a global economy with healthy and stable roots." Businesses are also facing "mounting expectations on corporate responsibility," he added. Mahadav said he hoped to see Israeli corporations join Global Compact "within the next two to three months, and connect to the more than 3,000 companies worldwide that have already signed up." The initiative was an opportunity for Israelis to join "the good things that the UN does," Rony Adam, the Foreign Ministry's director of UN Affairs, told the Post Thursday. "There are many UN activities that I am dragged into," he said, referring to the UN's controversial political dealings with Israel. "Here, I'm trying to promote a connection to the positive UN global agenda." Corporate responsibility is a "developing area" in Israel, Adam said. "Israeli companies can sign on to global moral values, which rest on international labor and environmental conventions," he said. "This initiative can connect Israelis to the world, and that's the direction I'm coming from." Global Compact is not just for the big names in Israeli business, Adam said. "I'm targeting Israelis who do worldwide business," he said, "but there is certainly also room to include local Israel companies in this."