Responsible business conduct

Mainstreaming human rights into the curriculum of Qatar’s largest business school

The ILO and the Ministry of Labour of Qatar are working with Qatar University to write a casebook on business and human rights, with a focus on labour rights initiatives in Qatar.

Article | 06 October 2023

Casebook on business and human rights

In partnership with Qatar University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Organizational Excellence (CEOE) at the College of Business and Economics (CBE), the ILO Project Office in Qatar, and the Ministry of Labour (MOL) are writing a casebook on business and human rights. The casebook is a collection of ten case studies that document the varied approaches private companies and public institutions have taken to aligning business practices with Qatar’s comprehensive labour reform agenda since 2018. The casebook, expected to be published in 2024, explores the impact these approaches have had on business outcomes such as profitability, worker satisfaction, retention and so forth.

The case studies are drafted by business professors in Qatar. They will be used as a teaching tool for business students to introduce and highlight human rights due diligence as a key component of effective business management. It will lead to complex and nuanced discussions on responsible business conduct among the next generation of business leaders in the country. The casebook will also be distributed more widely in the region, in both English and Arabic, to promote context-relevant business and human rights initiatives.

Peer review roundtable

In September 2023, the MOL, ILO, and CEOE hosted a peer review roundtable for case writers to present their research and case study drafts. The roundtable included a panel of business and human rights practitioners who shared insights on transitioning the case study drafts into effective teaching tools. These practitioners included Mike Posner, Director of New York University Stern’s Centre for Business and Human Rights (CBHR), and Carlotta Ferrero, Head of the Gulf Sustain Initiative of the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB).

The CBHR is a founding member of the Global Business School Network for Business and Human Rights (GBSN), launched in 2017. The network today comprises over 120 business schools from various countries. The GBSN is also closely engaged with the ILO to include labour rights issues in business education worldwide through the creation of comprehensive teaching material and resources.

What’s next?

Once published, the casebook will be introduced as a teaching tool at Qatar University’s College of Business and Economics’ undergraduate programme, and will be used to develop new business and human rights- focussed courses in the future. In addition, the casebook will also be adapted as training material for current business professionals in Qatar who want context-specific guidance on enhancing their human rights due diligence.

Partnership with Qatar University

The ILO and MOL have a broader partnership with Qatar University. This includes a variety of activities to introduce the concepts of business and human rights and international labour standards to students, administrative staff, and faculty.

Some of these activities include a three-day workshop for students, staff, and faculty representatives of two Qatari universities on mainstreaming diversity, equality, and inclusion into university policies and curricula , held in February 2023. This consultative workshop was an introduction of two salient international labour standards – ILO Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958 (No. 111) and the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) – to key stakeholders in local higher education institutions.

In March 2023, the ILO and MOL facilitated a seminar on Digital Economy, Decent Work, and Sustainable Development with over 100 female students at Qatar University’s CBE, in honour of this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” The seminar introduced students to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to contextualize the impact of digital labour platforms on the world of work, especially on women. The students were invited to provide their input on how entrepreneurial business plans can best integrate consideration for the SDGs, especially SDG 8 on “decent work and economic growth.”

Engagement with the business community

Given the business community’s appetite for broadening their understanding of business and human rights, on 6 September 2023, the ILO and MOL organised a discussion with CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainability professionals in the private sector, foreign business councils in Qatar, and local consultancy firms specialising in ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting. The discussion explored the growing obligation businesses worldwide have to conduct effective human rights due diligence, and what best practices local firms can adopt to stay ahead.