News Archives

corporate social responsibility

What if the lion lays down with the lamb… and just tries to eat it?

In the recent merger between Ahold and Delhaize (owner of the Food Lion and Hannaford grocery chains), the jury is still out on whether Ahold’s commitment to the Fair Food Program will pull Delhaize up, or Delhaize’s outdated approach to social responsibility will drag Ahold down…Sometimes when one company merges with another, good things follow.  Greater size and market power provide an increased ability to pursue the principles that underlie the two companies’ brands and, if those principles are harmonious, the potential for doing good while doing well increases proportionally.  But that is not the only possible outcome.  When a company with […]

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It’s still a pig…

Wendy’s latest public relations ploy in response to Campaign for Fair Food isn’t fooling anyone…Sometimes, you just have to hand it to Wikipedia.  It can be a wonderful resource, with clear, concise definitions of just about every concept under the sun.  Here’s a good example, brought to mind by the very latest news out of Wendy’s public relations department:Lipstick on a pig – Wikipedia To put “lipstick on a pig” is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product.The latest “news” from Wendy’s PR shop… Earlier this […]

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ANALYSIS: Lofty goals… or empty promises?

First draft of new industry-led initiative charts uncertain course toward “responsible labor practices” in US produce sector…Brief: There’s nothing like the “power of the purchasing order” for turning standards on paper into reality on the ground when violations of a code of conduct occur, and there’s nothing resembling that sort of market consequence with real teeth — yet — built into the produce industry’s recently released “Ethical Charter.”  Genuine, informed worker participation and real enforcement mechanisms will be imperative going forward if this new initiative is to have any hope of success in bringing meaningful human rights protections to the US and Mexican […]

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Part Two: What is a corporation to do if it is looking to partner with a real social responsibility program?

We concluded the first installment of this two-part series, entitled “The Enforcement Imperative at the Heart of Worker-driven Social Responsibility,” with this summary:To be effective, any social accountability program must employ: 1) worker education about their rights and remedies, 2) a confidential, timely, retaliation-free complaint resolution mechanism, and 3) regular and thorough audits.  And all of those mechanisms must be backed by the “power of the purchasing order.” If any of those is missing, real change will not happen.In other words, if someone is trying to sell you a car without an engine, a drive shaft, and four wheels, it’s not a […]

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The enforcement imperative at the heart of Worker-driven Social Responsibility…

Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) — the emerging paradigm for the protection of fundamental human rights in corporate supply chains born of the uniquely successful experience of the Fair Food Program — is founded on two distinct and equally important philosophical pillars: worker participation and an intense focus on enforcement.  The former gives WSR its name and its ability to identify and uncover the abuses most urgently felt by workers themselves.  The latter gives WSR its unrivaled power to eliminate those abuses.This is the first in a two-part series about the lesser-known of those two pillars, the enforcement focus — indeed mandate — of […]

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Question: What are the three most important elements of a successful social responsibility program?

Answer:  1) Enforcement 2) Enforcement 3) EnforcementThe litany of brutal human rights abuses in corporate supply chains around the globe just keeps getting longer by the day, and more horrifying with each new exposé.Longtime readers of this site are familiar with the extensive history of labor abuse in America’s fields, including Florida’s own “Harvest of Shame.”  From federal prosecutors declaring Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery” (in the wake of seven prosecutions of forced labor operations that liberated well over 1,200 workers since 1995), to the recent PBS Frontline series “Rape in the Fields,” to the even more recent $17 million EEOC judgment against the […]

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U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights “impressed” with Fair Food Program, says “merits of [FFP] are clear” for workers, business!

At a press conference in Washington, DC, last week, the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights issued its formal end-of-visit statement publicizing the Group’s initial findings from its 10-day mission to the United States. The goal of the mission — which took the delegation to communities across the country, from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to coal towns in West Virginia to the farmworker community in Immokalee — was “to explore practices, challenges and lessons relating to efforts on implementing the UN Guiding Principles (“GPs”) on business and human rights.”

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The three founding myths of corporate-led social responsibility…

Myth #1: Standards, without resources or mechanisms sufficient to enforce them, are adequate to respect and protect human rights in the supply chain

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The three lies CEOs tell themselves about social responsibility (that only they believe), brought to you by Royal Ahold!

The field of corporate social responsibility is characterized, for the most part, by attention to the appearance of accountability over the substance — to the facade of reassuring words and admirable standards over the hard work of real-life enforcement. Ahold’s stated approach to social responsibility falls squarely within this dismal tradition.

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