Corporate Social Responsibility and Workers’ Rights

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[Excerpt] Corporate social responsibility (CSR) brings an important dimension to the global economy. CSR can enhance human rights, labor rights, and labor standards in the workplace by joining consumer power and socially responsible business leadership—not just leadership in Nike headquarters in Oregon or Levi Strauss headquarters in California, but leadership in trading house headquarters in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and leadership at the factory level in Dongguan and Shenzhen. Ten years ago, I would not have said this. I viewed corporate social responsibility and corporate codes of conduct as public relations maneuvers to pacify concerned consumers. Behind a facade of social responsibility, profits always trumped social concerns. CSR was only a fig leaf hiding abusive treatment of workers. But in recent years some concrete, positive results from effectively applied CSR programs convinced me of their value. In Mexico in 2001, workers at the Korean-owned KukDong sportswear factory succeeded in replacing a management and government dominated trade union with a democratic union of the workers' choice. Compliance officials from Nike and Reebok, two of the largest buyers, joined forces with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) enforcing their codes of conduct to achieve this result.

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2008-10-01
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corporations; social responsibility; workers’ rights; labor movement; labor rights; human rights
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