As we wrap up our series of definitions of terms commonly used in talking about the issues we address (which we’ll post as a separate section in our website soon for easy reference – stay tuned), we wanted to take yet another step back and ask: Why do we care? Why do these issues matter? Take a look at our answer – and let us know if there are other reasons YOU care about human rights and how they are impacted…
We recognize that the topics we discuss here can be overwhelming at times. There’s a lot going on in the world and there’s a lot going on in your life as well. You might reach a point in thinking about how businesses impact human rights when you ask yourself, “Why should I care?” Why choose not to buy textiles from a company that uses child labor, or to reject fruit from a company that uses pesticides harmful to humans (including the humans picking them)? Why should you care enough to be sure a company refrains from these practices?
There are many reasons. Here are just four:
Also, CSR is good for corporations in the long run. They gain respect from stakeholders and reduce chances of an overload of government regulation if they are doing a good job of practicing responsible business themselves.
The idea of pushing production, whatever the costs, may make a company appear rise to economic success quickly, but will not sustain the company in our world today. For more, read this article from the Economist.
But why should you care, if you are part of the 99%? Why care about the big business in the 1%?
The truth is corporations affect us, and people all around the world. For example, corporations can own and influence the media. Having this power means they have a choice in what information they give to the public. Unless you dig deeper, you may be unaware of the real situation. Corporations also have power that blurs with that of the government, and sometimes can even be more powerful than some governments!
Read this article to learn about how technology is forcing organizations to be more transparent.
3. Another important reason to be a conscious consumer is national security. Could the brand of chocolate you chose to buy actually play a role in international relations? That sounds crazy but it is true!
It doesn’t look good for the United States if our companies go overseas and set up production that violates human rights. This creates a bad image of America in the minds of citizens of other countries, and we cannot afford to make international enemies! As a country with a government based in freedom and inalienable rights, we look very hypocritical to ignore the rights and freedoms of others.
4. Finally, violating human rights is just wrong. From an ethical standpoint, nothing less than companies with good CSR practices are acceptable. And by “CSR,” we don’t just mean giving some money to causes around the world – though that can be a good thing to do. We mean looking holistically at the companies’ impact and ensuring that human rights are respected at each and every step along the supply chain.
In business, profit is the goal. But profit is more than a number in financial records, or the amount of money brought in at the end of the year. Profit, as a broader concept, is success for a whole community. That community includes every single person linked to the company, the workers, transporters, the CEO and consumers. No businesses exist in a vacuum. Because of the interconnected nature of the world today, to make a profit is to do what is best for the world as a whole, which includes upholding human rights.
The life and rights of people should never be ignored in the desire to “make a profit.”
Why do you care? Are there reasons we didn’t include here? Let us know by commenting here, posting to our Facebook page, or tweeting @phbalancedfilms.