27 January 2023

8th ECAAR Dialogue Webinar: “Ethics of Work and Human Development” Experts Gathered to Discuss What Future ASEAN Workplaces Should Look Like

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

On 18th January 2023, experts from various fields came together in the 8th iteration of the ECAAR Dialogue Webinar “Ethics of Work and Human Development” and shared their insights on how future ASEAN workplaces should look like. The webinar featured experts in human development, fair work, human rights, and social sciences from various institutions. Each drew on their expertise to share how ethics and human rights could be incorporated into workplaces.

The first session was kickstarted by Ms. Rodora Turalde Babaran, the ASEAN Directorate for Human Development. Ms. Rodora presented how the ASEAN Secretariat has been pushing forward with human rights and human development issues in the region. She acknowledged numerous challenges that had come our way, citingthe COVID-19 pandemic, the digitalization of the economy, and ageing societies as some examples. She then highlighted ASEAN’s responses to such challenges. For instance, Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap aimed at strengthening ASEAN workforces and economies for the digital transformation, the transition towards green and circular economy in ASEAN, and support for capacity building in the face of the ageing society.

Following Ms. Rodora is Dr. Vachararutai Boontinand, Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University. With her background in human rights, Dr. Vachararutai presented to us how human rights went hand-in-hand with ethics and why we needed both at the same time. She emphasised that we needed human rights, especially in the form of laws, to provide a top-down oversight, while ethics, in the form of culture and mindset, would be crucial to ensure fairness on the ground level.

The floor was then passed on to Professor Virgel C. Binghay, Director of the Center for Industry Productivity & Competitiveness, School of Labor & Industrial Relations, University of the Philippines. Prof. Binghay shared with us intriguing insights on the implementation of ethics in workplaces. He especially emphasised the leadership of the organisation as the main catalyst for change. Further, he also tapped into the evolving "platform economy" and how work still needed to be done to ensure fairness for workers in this rising sector.

The session was concluded by Dr. Welyne J. Jehom from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at University of Malaya. Dr. Jehom, drawing on her experience in the social sciences, described how research in social sciences could help with human development practices. She also introduced us to the international master's degree in human development that will be offered by University of Malaya. This master's degree will be the first of its kind in ASEAN and is aimed at professionals from various industries who want to put human development into practice at their organisations.

Throughout the discussion, participants joined in with diverse and thought-provoking questions. Many stepped beyond the realm of ethical practice in office spaces and into how external factors, such as politics and technologies, can impact our work and our quality of life at work as well.

If you are interested in the full content of the webinar, you can find the full recording of the event at https://youtu.be/41U2y1UzO2o.