12 May 2021
Thank you Mr. Grass,
And congratulations to the Impact Foundation for organizing such a far-reaching virtual event. I’m so glad to see the interest and support mobilized for Impact’21. Close to 100 partners helped to make this event happen and over 250 speakers are expected. That is impressive.
Mister Prime Minister, may I congratulate you on Poland’s progress against the COVID-19 pandemic and the accelerated vaccine rollout. Poland is already seeing its economy rebound. I recently met with Finance Minister Kościński and was impressed by his efforts to ensure that Poland’s investment climate is welcoming. We will find out more about what the future holds for this great country throughout Impact’21.
Over the next two-days, this conference will focus on how the business community is transforming and innovating to tackle some of the world’s most profound challenges. American companies are leading this effort – in areas like clean energy technology, healthcare, and digitization. This transformation represents jobs, and economic growth for the United States and Poland. You’ll hear from iconic American brands like Mastercard, Microsoft, Google, and Dell – all with a significant footprint in Poland.
Our bilateral relationship has created decades of economic prosperity for both our countries. U.S. Polish business ties have grown rapidly since 1989. Each year, new American companies have established operations in Poland, and those that are already here have expanded their investment. Over the last three decades, more than 1,500 American companies have arrived in Poland, directly sustaining over one quarter of a million jobs.
There has been big news coming from several of our American companies in Poland. Just a few weeks ago, I was delighted to join the launch of Google Cloud Poland, a multi-billion-dollar investment in the Polish economy.
Google isn’t alone. Microsoft also has a digital transformation plan. They announced a $1 billion investment to accelerate innovation in “Polish Silicon Valley,” which includes the opening of a new data center region.
This business partnership works because of our strong friendship and economic ties. American companies bring fair, transparent, and predictable regulations – and that means something. It matters in the business world when you collaborate with a partner you can trust, a partner who cares about local communities.
In the United States, we expect and promote corporate social responsibility. We are proud of the contributions many of our American companies have made in Poland.
Amazon delivered and financed hospital equipment at the start of the pandemic – including tests and protective clothing. Coca-Cola provided water and other drinks to Poland’s front-line healthcare workers. In all, over 80 American companies donated approximately $60 million dollars to support Poland’s fight against COVID-19.
President Joe Biden has often said, “We lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” This is true for many of our American companies, who are champions for diversity in the workplace.
My story as a United States diplomat is a prime illustration of its importance. In the past 20 years as a career member of the Foreign Service, and as an Albanian American, I have known first-hand the value of a diverse group of voices, especially at the top.
My journey in the Foreign Service has been guided by female heroes.
I have been the Deputy Chief of Mission under female Ambassadors in Montenegro and here in Poland. One of the first people to teach me about foreign policy was Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State. These leaders have helped me to understand what everyone brings to the table, and how to be an advocate for others.
An excerpt from Albright’s recent book explains this premise: “The real question is: who has the responsibility to uphold human rights? The answer to that is: everyone.”
Empowering and hiring diverse voices is one way to answer the call – and it also makes business sense. In the United States and in Poland we have a stronger workforce when people from various backgrounds can bring their own unique skills and talents to jobs.
That extends to the LGBTQI+ community. According to Open for Business, an organization that promotes LGBT+ inclusivity, a lack of inclusivity on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity can damage long-term economic prospects. In Poland, this has resulted in wage gap differences and health inequalities. A higher prevalence of depression in the LGBT+ community also leads to loss in productivity and earnings. In all, this has cost the Polish economy an estimated $1.2 billion per year.
We hear from our companies that they consider the diversity and inclusiveness conditions of a country when they decide whether to invest and create jobs. They know how profitable an inclusive workforce can be. But, more importantly, creating an atmosphere where everyone is treated with dignity and respect is the right thing to do.
The planet needs our support too; our lives depend on it. The climate crisis we are facing is not a one-country problem, nor is there a one-country solution – this is why President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and hosted the Climate Leaders’ Summit a few weeks ago.
That event brought together leaders from the major economies of the world, including President Andrzej Duda who spoke of cutting carbon and partnering to develop affordable zero-emission technologies over the next two decades. The United States is committed to supporting Poland in its efforts to adopt clean energy technologies.
At the Climate Summit, President Duda also discussed the phasing out of coal. A people-centered transition to decarbonize an economy is something the United States understands. We have our own goals, pledging sharper cuts in the next 10 years to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This is a huge opportunity for job creation, and some jobs of the past will transition to jobs of the future.
The U.S. is helping to provide pathways for workers to find new, sustainable livelihoods, and support those that need assistance as we navigate this transition. Our hope is to provide a model that other countries can follow, perhaps even Poland.
Fighting back against COVID-19, building a diverse and inclusive work force, boosting our economies, saving the planet, creating good jobs, and helping those that need to transition to new ones, there is so much Poland and the United States can do together, while learning from each other in the process.
Let’s continue our fruitful relationship – and strive to do the right thing.
Because in the words of Civil Rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. – “The time is always right to do what is right.”
May God Bless America and may God Bless Poland.