Responsible Employment Strategies

Responsible employment strategies can close the labor supply and demand gap.

The Problem: The global labor market faces a major supply and demand imbalance. Currently, 200 million people are unemployed while 40 million people enter the labor pool annually. At the same time, businesses struggle to recruit appropriately qualified employees to ensure future business development and innovation.

The Solution: The WBCSD’s Responsible Employment Strategies (RES) initiative aims to catalyze collective business action—aligned with strategic and commercial drivers—to develop skills for the future, enhance employment opportunities, and promote good working conditions within companies and throughout their supply chains.

The Business Case

  • Reputation. Become an employer- and partner-of-choice by demonstrating business leadership in addressing major strategic sustainability challenges facing most countries and economies around the world.

  • Competitive advantage. Gain access to talent and improve availability of appropriate skills.

  • Supply chains. Strengthen the capabilities and competitiveness of SMEs as current (and future) partners.

  • Risk management. Counteract the effects of demographic change and labor market discrepancies through workplace innovation.

  • License to operate. Secure operations by ensuring good working conditions within own premises and along supply chains.

  • Social cohesion. Avoid risks of social unrest underlying high unemployment, especially among the young.

  • Wealth creation. Enhance effective demand through new jobs and sustainable livelihoods.



All companies can take action in their sphere of influence to advance the employment and skills agenda by systematically identifying, quantifying and leveraging opportunities. Implementing RES will require businesses to take the following actions along their supply chain:

* Map. Map and analyze value chains to understand a company’s full employment footprint, flagging critical jobs and skills “opportunity points.”

* Measure & Report. Include information on impacts on skills and employment in external reporting and utilizing this data to inform strategy and performance management.

* Act. Enhance positive and reduce negative impacts, for example, by: addressing skills gaps, workplace innovation, tackling vulnerable employment, and leveraging employment multipliers to drive value chain employment creation.

* Collaborate. Work collaboratively with business and across sectors at country/region/sector/value chain level as appropriate to scale up impacts beyond the boundaries of members’ business.


Regulation. Policies and incentives to encourage job creation, workplace innovation and capacity building.

Public-Private Partnerships. Collaboration to improve educational standards, develop skills and accelerate employment multiplier effects.


  • Baseline figures for education and employment per country.

  • Practice-based metrics defining the scope of RES projects, their costs and their benefits.

  • Performance-based measures, such as number of jobs created along the entire value chain.

Relevant priority areas