One facet of the sustainability movement is that of corporate social responsibility, or CSR. This is the principle that businesses should recognise the wider social impact they have upon their and their suppliers’ workers and communities.
Many still misunderstand what is meant by this, believing it to be philanthropy rebranded. They limit their CSR activities to supporting grass roots causes, or donating a percentage of their annual income to a Charity of The Year.
Now a new report from makeITfair demonstrates how a simple business CSR policy, applied to the relevant employees, can profoundly affect the world, giving everyone a CSR buzz in their pocket – literally.
Am I Talking About You?
Do you own a mobile telephone? Is it from one of these manufacturers:
- Apple (the iPhone)
- Sony Ericsson
These phones represent around 80% of the number of telephones worldwide. Over half of their components for these phones are produced in Asia, including the Philippines and China.
The majority of the workers are young women aged between 16 and 30, chosen because they are easier to control. They are expected to handle hazardous chemicals with little or no protection and no special consideration given to juveniles,
In the Philippines, two parents working a weekly stint of up to 80 hours on the production line won’t provide enough income for an average family to live on.
In China workers often live within the factories, in cramped conditions of up to twelve people per room with little ventilation and no private space of their own.
Where workers have attempted to protest or form an independent union they’ve been silenced through brutal beatings, police intervention and other “disciplinary measures”.
And It All Comes Back To You
You could blame the countries involved for having lax laws and soft enforcement regimes, or the phone manufacturers for not ensuring their high-sounding commitments to human rights were carried through by their suppliers.
Or you could blame the consumers who blindly buy mobile phones without questioning why they’re so astoundingly cheap.
What is for sure is that whenever that business owned little box buzzes in your pocket, its merry little tune hides a darker tale of human deprivation and suffering than just your boss trying to find out what you’re up to.
Photo Credit: “Enter the wonderful dome of prim cell phones” by Torley from Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution Licence.
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