HR as a Strategic Partner in Redefining and Reexamining Supply Chain Labor Standards
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[Excerpt] In today’s global marketplace, organizations no longer operate with linear supply chains or manufacturing models. The issue of global labor standards has been a debated topic since the 1990’s and industry supply chains continue to provoke discussions around labor standards and improving worker conditions[i]. Nike presents the classic example of an organization that exploited its outsourcing model and was ultimately forced to take accountability for its actions in the 1990’s. Today’s millennial generation alongside consumer groups is now addressing Steve Job’s legacy, Apple and its primary supplier, Foxconn. On June 14th 2012, a Foxconn employee jumped to his death from his apartment building; marking the 18th reported worker suicide at Foxconn factories in China in just over two years[ii]. Many additional suicides may have gone unreported. But these deaths and the focus on conditions at Foxconn reflect only a portion of the troubling conditions at Apple suppliers that includes issues around organizational work design and employee working conditions. As consumer confidence in the ability of corporations to be socially responsible deteriorates it is up to the HR function to play a strategic role in navigating and providing strategic solutions to maintaining fair global labor standards within an organization. In this paper, I will discuss the role of HR to be more involved as a line leader that looks to integrate global labor standards compliance as an essential element in an organizations business model. I will also discuss the need for HR to push for the centrality of compliance in organizations along with the necessary layers of oversight while creating an organizational culture that fosters and encourages socially responsible behavior of subcontractors and suppliers.
HR Review; Human Resources; supply chain labor standards; strategic partnership
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