The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. Its unique tripartite structure gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes. The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
Private sector development (PSD) policy and strategy
The ILO promotes a people-centred and sustainable approach to enterprise development, which aligns enterprise growth and the creation of productive employment and decent work with sustainable development objectives. It builds its approach around three mutually reinforcing pillars:
- Creating an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises and employment, which encourages investment and entrepreneurship;
- Helping entrepreneurs to start and build successful enterprises;
- Linking productivity improvements to better working conditions, good industrial relations and good environmental practices.
Based on a range of tested products and solutions applied internationally on a large scale, the ILO has consolidated its expertise in 11 distinct areas classified according to the following five groups:
- Small and Medium Enterprises, entailing a standardised assessment tool for the Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE), an approach to help small businesses to identify and exploit market opportunities through Value Chain Development, a set of Management and Entrepreneurial Training, a programme to foster Women’s Entrepreneurship Development (WED), a training and in-factory counselling programme to increase SME productivity through better workplace cooperation,Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE);
- Multinational Companies, responsible for the promotion and follow-up of the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration), which is the ILO’s key tool for cooperating with the corporate world;
- Cooperatives, promoting the cooperative business model with its specific regulatory and institutional requirements as well as social enterprises, which pursue both economic and social aims and foster solidarity;
- Creation of Green Jobs, helping businesses to successfully shift towards a greener economy and adapt to economic and environmental crisis and change.
- Social Finance, supporting efforts to extend financial services to excluded persons by promoting better employment and reducing the vulnerability of the working poor.
Moreover, ILO’s close contact with governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions of its member countries provides unique access to the actors in the real economy supported by a global network of enterprise specialists. Capacity development programmes are, designed and delivered worldwide in cooperation with the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin, Italy.
Some useful documents available on the ILO and DCED websites include:
- ILO webpage on the private sector and employment promotion
- The ILO‘s Approach of Entrepreneurship Development. Presentation by José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Assistant Director-General for Policy (2013)
- An Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (2012)
- Boosting Local Economies (2012)
- Methodologies for Assessing Green Jobs (2013)
- Better Work (partnership with the IFC)
Cooperation with the private sector
Recognizing the pivotal role they play, the ILO works with individual companies and foundations and with employers and their organizations to tackle important global labour market issues; to support sustainable enterprises and entrepreneurs; to enhance value in supply chains; to promote social protection; and to resolve specific problems in the world of work.
Transparency, effectiveness and results in PSD
With the introduction of result-based management, the ILO has reinforced its commitment to transparency, effectiveness and organizational learning by establishing a more substantial, effective and independent evaluation function in the ILO. The ILO established a central Evaluation Unit and revised its policy to conform to United Nations norms and standards for evaluation. A number of evaluation reports related to enterprise development programmes are available on ILO’s website, whilst on the DCED database it is possible to find ILO documents on value chain development.