EmiratesGBC and HSBC Middle East launch capacity building programme on socially responsible labour practices for the built environment with Equidem and Multiplex

The Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum promoting sustainability and green buildings, has partnered with HSBC Middle East to launch a ‘responsible labour practices’ capacity building programme to promote socially responsible worker welfare practices and strengthen the financial capability of workers.

Organised in association with training partner Equidem and knowledge partner Multiplex, the programme will help the sector continue its efforts towards worker welfare in line with the UAE’s local labour laws, the ILO Conventions ratified by the UAE, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

This programme comes at a time when companies worldwide are grappling with economic difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic and are doing their best to ensure workers are treated ethically, prioritising critical items like health and safety, wellbeing, wages, job security, and fair payment practices.

H.E. Ali Al Jassim, Chairperson, EmiratesGBC, said: “With more than a decade of expertise in promoting sustainable built environments, we will draw on our experience to develop and deliver the responsible labour practices training programme with our partners and subject matter experts. At the heart of sustainable development are the three Ps – planet, people and profits – and the role of workers, who are at the frontline, is extremely crucial in achieving the nation’s green vision. Further, financial security has been linked to worker wellbeing and productivity. By promoting best practices for construction workers and boosting their financial literacy, we hope to build a more proactive and confident workforce.”

As per ILO estimates, “Global labour income in 2020… is estimated to have declined by 8.3%, which amounts to US$3.7 trillion, or 4.4% of global gross domestic product (GDP).”[1] The ILO also indicates that the global economic backlash from the pandemic has widened social vulnerabilities and income polarities, with detrimental impacts felt by women, migrant workers and youth[2].

This capacity building programme, which is open to all organisations operating in the UAE’s built environment value chain, is targeting developers, contractors, recruitment agencies, manpower companies and all key stakeholders involved in the construction, operation, maintenance and servicing of buildings and infrastructure developments.

Sabrin Rahman, EMEA Head of Sustainability, HSBC, said: “Socially responsible labour practices must be at the heart of all built environment operations, from construction to servicing and across the supply chain. The welfare of workers is paramount and any green building or development should hold itself up to the highest scrutiny across the ESG spectrum, not only the environmental and energy-saving measurements. Studies have shown that improved financial literacy, and consequentially financial wellbeing, has a positive effect on a person’s mental health. HSBC supports the wellbeing of the people we serve, in the communities we operate, and we’re delighted to partner with EmiratesGBC on this programme.”


The programme will be offered via two streams for participating companies, targeting different levels of management, staff and the workforce. The first stream, delivered online, on socially responsible labour practices will help build capacity on worker welfare management practices, covering modules such as: Worker Welfare Protections, Responsible Recruitment, Welfare Monitoring, Occupational Health & Safety, Wage Payment & Employee Benefits, Grievance Mechanisms and Labour Standards & Supply Chain.

The second stream will focus on worker financial wellbeing and building their capacity for financial management. This stream will address topics such as how to manage savings and budgeting as well as how to access credit and build financial resilience during periods of uncertainty such as the current pandemic.

Jessica Verdon, Senior Sustainability Manager at Multiplex, said: “The built environment has a defining influence on what it means to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Complex layers of sub-contracting and supply chains in construction pose major challenges, making migrant workers particularly vulnerable. Social equity throughout the built environment life cycle is central to the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient cities.  Multiplex has been on a journey for the last five years in the UAE to develop systems and processes to tackle labour exploitation and promote dignity, wellbeing and human rights, working directly with our supply chain to create a better environment for workers in line with the Building Responsibly Principles. We are excited to be key thought partners on this programme and share our learnings with our peers to scale up ethical labour practices.’’

Mustafa Qadri, Executive Director, Equidem Research and Consulting, said: “As the United Arab Emirates seeks to shift towards more sustainable business practice in line with international standards, now is an ideal opportunity for built environment stakeholders to address worker welfare and financial wellbeing. Thousands of workers in Dubai and the wider Emirates are employed in construction and associated sectors, sending home valuable remittances and learning important skills. Yet workers remain at risk of exploitation. This important capacity building programme seeks to empower workers, their employers and other stakeholders with information and guidance on promoting worker welfare and financial wellbeing, cornerstones of a sustainable built environment.”

The first training course will be held online from the August 23 to September 1 as a series of two-hour modules. The training is free and places are allocated on a first-come basis. Organisations interested in attending can find more details and register on the EmiratesGBC website, https://emiratesgbc.org/responsible-labour-practices/ or contact [email protected] for further information.

EmiratesGBC regularly hosts and participates in multinational events, conferences and forums. It has also developed a suite of activities including networking events, technical workshops, focus days and facilitated training specific built environment issues to meet the needs of its members, the UAE community, and the wider Middle East.

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