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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)



The United Nations see decent work as a cornerstone of sustainable development. Promoting dignified, secure, socially inclusive and fairly paid jobs and working conditions for all will be crucial to the success of the new global sustainable development agenda and is pivotal to achieving gender equality, sustainable economic growth and resilient infrastructure for sustainable industrialisation, for all. Decent work has two dimensions: the number of jobs supported by a company and the meaningful characteristics of those jobs. The UN, OECD and ILO have made clear that, in addition to the number of jobs generated, the quality of employment is key to increasing labour force participation, productivity and economic performance. 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many societal inequalities – in particular uncovering the depth and breadth of unequal working conditions with a clear divide emerging between those able to work from home, and those who cannot afford to do so. Furthermore, mass unemployment and job insecurity are projected to continue even as vaccines are rolled out – the UN predicts that during the pandemic, 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy risk losing their livelihoods. 

Even before the pandemic, a consideration of how investments impact social issues was climbing up the agenda as investors began broadening the definition for what constitutes ‘sustainable’ investment, beyond the delivery of a low carbon future. Building on previous work by the ILG on how investors can effectively measure and report the social and environmental performance of investment funds, the group are now working to identity ways for investors to advance decent work, culminating in a guide with the key concepts, initiatives and measuring investment impacts on decent work. This paves the way for the development of a simple, robust and transparent metric for investors to measure and report both the quantitative and qualitative information about their investment impacts on decent work. 


10 August 2021 - Can investors progress decent work? Lucy Auden and Dr Anna Barford, Prince of Wales Fellow at CISL reflect on inequalities in society and the labour market that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and consider how investors can progress decent work for all. 

Read more about Dr Anna Barford's reflection on Unilever's commitment to living wages and the potential to create a fairer and more equal society. 

Investment Leaders Group

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