Corporations Come to the UN to Brag behind Closed $1000 Doors about Diversity,
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, June
4, updated June 5 and 12 -- The UN, which preaches transparency and openness to civil society, has this
week given conference room space in its headquarters to a series of closed-door
meetings of corporations
from Citigroup to Sovereign Bank, the New York Times to Major League Baseball.
by the office of Ban Ki-moon, the conference is called the World Diversity
Leadership Summit, and the cost if one wanted to enter these UN doors is
Given the exclusive if not exclusionary nature of the meetings, some were
Sovereign Bank's June 4 press release
announcing that its
Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion,
David Lipscomb, will present at the World Diversity Leadership Summit (WDLS)
today and Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at the United Nations' General Assembly building
in New York. Today Lipscomb will participate in a panel discussion titled
"What's Next - Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for ROI and Profit Generation"
at 2:30 p.m.... Hosted by the United Nations Global Compact, the WDLS brings
together leading policy experts, government officials, corporate executives and
NGO representatives to discuss the ramifications of diversity on the
on Monday, Inner City Press went to the basement of UN Headquarters to where the
publicly-announced panel discussion was to take place, Conference Room C. A sign
facing the hallway said "sponsored by the Executive Office of the
Secretary-General, Hilton Hotels Corporation presents WDLS 2007, hosted by the
UN Global Compact."
Hotels Corporation also
put out a press release
touting its involvement at UN Headquarters, click
view. For this diversity conference, the UN
Global Compact has in a press release
hyped the participation of
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, and of MGM Mirage. It's a lot of
pitching to the press for an event which, even though held in the United
Nations, is closed, including to the press. The transparency... is a mirage.
Compact meeting April 2007 with Mr. Ban -- two months later, to enter a similar
UN conference room cost $1000
secrets of corporate "best practices" could have been discussed inside? The UN
Global Compact, which complains about a lack of coverage from the UN press
corps, has in the past five days held two closed meetings in UN headquarters:
with Coca-Cola in the Delegates Dining Room on May 31, and now in the UN
basement conference rooms on June 4. In between, it played a role in a more
public event on the North Lawn on June 1, there partnering with Dow Chemicals.
Two protesters with a banner were removed, and the press was told to go cover
the event, for Blue Planet Run, and not to cover the protest. Click
that story. Three days later, rather than increased openness, there is less.
Update of June 5
-- We note this from Tuesday's
noon briefing transcript:
Inner City Press: Down in the basement,
yesterday and today, there's this conference called the World Diversity
Leadership Summit, and it's being sponsored by the United Nations, by the
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). I tried to attend yesterday
but they said it's a closed meeting. It actually costs $1,000 to attend this
conference. I'm wondering what the UNís policy is on giving its facilities for
a for-profit conference, costing $1,000?
Deputy Spokesperson: I am not aware of
this conference, so I'd have to look into that for you.
Question: If you could, that would be
good. Because it says EOSG right at the top, hosted by the EOSG, and then
"entry fee $1,000."
Deputy Spokesperson: Thanks for the tip
off. I'll look into it for you.
[After the briefing, correspondents were
informed that the conference, which is co-sponsored by the Global Compact, is
open to the media and United Nations community free of charge.]
Tuesday afternoon several sessions remain closed, at an opened-up session in
Conference Room 4, a speaker opined that George W. Bush is the ultimate
beneficiary of affirmative action, through among other things legacy college
admission, while a representative of Luftansa claimed to go beyond mere legal
diversity requirements. We'll continue on this beat.
Update of June 12
-- The Global Compact has pointed out that while it was the topic of the May 31
luncheon with Coca-Cola, it was not technically a sponsor, and the June 1 event
with Dow Chemical was by the UN Fund for International Partnerships. Inner City
Press on June 7 asked the Global Compact for a statement on where the $1000 fees
from the Global Compact co-sponsored World Diversity Leadership Summit went.
When the promised answer is received, we will report it here.
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while
it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this
installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the
UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone
calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep
the information flowing.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
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