The United Nations Global Compact is the world’s leading corporate sustainability initiative. The United Nations Global Compact Network Bangladesh celebrated the 1st Integrity Day 2023 under the theme “Enabling Good Citizenship and Integrity through Collective Action.” The event was held at the Lakeshore Hotel, Gulshan 2, and brought together leaders from the private sector, civil society, the maritime sector, and academia.
Chief Guest Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone, delivered the opening address, and he mentioned the importance of leading by example: “Good Business is Sustainable Business,” and is built upon “Transparency and Honesty.” The first panel discussion brought together cross-industry leaders including Fakhrul Hasan, General Manager, Human Resources, SQUARE Pharmaceuticals, Warisul Abid, Chief People & Sustainability Officer, SQ Group, Afreen Huda, Chief Human Resources Officer, IDLC Finance, and Syed Ariful Islam, Project Lead, Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and ex-Director General, Department of Shipping. The session was moderated by Md. Rubaiyath Sarwar, Managing Director, Innovision Consulting. The cross-industry discussion shed light on ground realities, challenges, and best practices related to promoting integrity in the workplace as well as their supply chains. The panellists also highlighted the importance of having well-defined values and embedding them into the culture of their organisations for sustainable change.
The second panel discussion brought together leaders from the academic landscape to discuss The Role of Academia in Achieving Good Citizenship and Integrity for the next generation of leaders who will be entering the workplace. The panel comprised Imran Rahman, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), M. Lutfar Rahman, Vice-Chancellor, Daffodil International University (DIU), and Md. Rashedur Rahman, Executive Director, Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Center (ICE), University of Dhaka. The panellists shared the roles that their institutions are playing, along with how academia can engage with the private sector and civil society to embed good citizenship and integrity within the youth. Tahsinah Ahmed, Executive Director of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) moderated the session.
The two panel discussions were followed by a student debate between the debate clubs of North South University and the University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh on the motion, “Accountability Should Begin with the Public Sector, Not the Private Sector.” The team from North South University who were against the motion emerged as winners of the immersive and competitive session.
In his closing remarks, Korvi Rakshand, Chairman, JAAGO Foundation, shared that there is a need to deploy a collective approach when it comes to upholding and promoting integrity. Even though it may take a while, a collective approach would lead to sustainable impact in the long run.
In a separate interview, the Programme Manager for United Nations Global Compact Network Bangladesh, Mabrur M. Chowdhury, explained the rationale behind the celebration of Integrity Day and commented: “To drive sustainable change, all stakeholders need to understand the critical roles they play and come together on a common platform. At the UN Global Compact Bangladesh, we provide that much-needed platform” and emphasised its linkage with the 10th Principle of the United Nations Global Compact, which states: “Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms.”
Also, Juliana Awo Quist Lawson, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, elaborated that Citizen participation and engagement are crucial in the fight against corruption. The Anti-Corruption Collective Action (ACCA) initiative of the United Nations Global Compact Network Bangladesh seeks to advance citizen participation and engagement in anti-corruption efforts and also promote citizen-led initiatives to advance transparency and accountability.