Category Archives: Social Responsibility

Building Sustainable Organizations: The Human Factor

Source: Jeffrey Pfeffer, Forbes India, August 24, 2012

It’s time to broaden our focus on environmental sustainability practices and social responsibility to also include organizational effects on employee health and mortality…Even as businesses have appointed ‘eco-managers’ to oversee efforts to become more energy efficient and publicly report carbon emissions from their activities, one would be hard-pressed to find similar efforts focused on employees. I believe it’s time to broaden our focus on environmental sustainability practices and social responsibility to also include organizational effects on employee health and mortality. …

…Following are just a few of the many ways company decisions affect the health and welfare of their people.

1.Providing Health Insurance…
2.The Effects of Layoffs….
3.Work Hours and Work-Family Conflict….
4. Work Stress….
5.Inequality. …

Corporate Social Responsibility, Globalization, the Multinational Corporation, and Labor: An Unlikely Alliance

Source: Alexandra R. Harrington, Albany Law Review, Volume 75 Issue 1, 2011/2012

This article discusses the intersection between globalization, the more legally robust corporate social responsibility regimes that are being developed in relation to multinational corporate actions and actors, and the future of labor regulation. While it is easy to gloss over this intersection through pessimism based on prior corporate bad acts, there is a need to look beyond this understanding of the intersection. Accordingly, this article argues that through robust corporate social responsibility practices and international organization regulations, globalization and the rise of the multinational corporation can serve as a source of improved labor rights within both developed and developing countries.

Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012

Source: Cliff Zukin, Mark Szeltner,John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Rutgers, May 2012

From the summary:
Net Impact’s Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 reveals that employees who say they have the opportunity to make a direct social and environmental impact through their job report higher satisfaction levels than those who don’t. In fact, employees who say they can make an impact while on the job report greater satisfaction than those who can’t by a 2:1 ratio.
This data is backed up by the two-thirds of graduating university students who tell us that making a difference through their next job is a priority, and by the 45% of students who say they would even take a pay cut to do so…

..Most people say that having a job that makes a social impact on the world is an important life goal. In fact, students say it is more important than having children, a prestigious career, being wealthy, or being a community leader — ranking only below financial security and marriage. Professionals show similar prioritization, with having children rising higher on their list of goals.
See also:
Press release

3 Corporate Myths that Threaten the Wealth of the Nation

Source: William Lazonick, Ken Jacobson and Lynn Parramore, AlterNet, April 5, 2012

It’s time to restore corporate power to the people by blasting through the myths about how corporations should be run, and for whom.

Corporations are not working for the 99%. But this wasn’t always the case. In a special 5-part AlterNet series, William Lazonick, professor at UMass, president of the Academic-Industry Research Network, and one of the leading expert on the American corporation, along with journalist Ken Jacobson and AlterNet’s Lynn Parramore, will examine the foundations, history, and purpose of the corporation to answer this vital question: How can the public take control of the business corporation and make it work for the real economy?
See also:
Profits Trump People in Corporate America
Source: Ken Jacobson,, April 2012

Trade Unions, Class Struggle and Development

Source: Ben Selwyn, Global Labour Column, March 26, 2012

How do class relations contribute to processes of capitalist development? Can workers’ struggles generate more progressive forms of human development, in the form of improved working and non-working conditions, rising pay and active social movements that bring workers’ concerns to the fore? Within much thinking about development the principal debate over the past 30 years or so has been between advocates of state-led and market-led development. For these advocates either state allocation and generation of resources or market-efficiency generates a growing pot of social wealth which trickles down, at some indeterminate point in the future, to the labouring population. Advocates of these approaches often support labour-repressive measures (ranging from opposition to minimum wages and worker welfare to support for dictatorial regimes that outlaw trade unions, raise the rate of exploitation and repress labour) as a means to kickstart the ‘development’ process of capital accumulation. From these perspectives capital and the state come first and receive political priority, and labour comes a distinct second, if at all. Within development studies, such perspectives have become so normalised that there is rarely any comment on how they rest on a fundamental contradiction: Whilst development practitioners aim to improve the lot of the poor, such labour-repressing measures actually worsen their conditions for a considerable period of time and offer no guarantee when (or if) they will improve.

Movements, Markets and Fields: The Effects of ­Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns on U.S. Firms, 1993-2000

Source: Tim Bartley, Social Forces, Volume 90, Issue 2, December 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
How do social movements influence corporations? Recent work suggests that movements can inflict material damage on their targets and shape categories of evaluation in organizational fields. Extending these ideas, we examine the effects of anti-sweatshop campaigns on sales, stock performance, reputation and specialized ratings of U.S. firms, using fixed-effects regression models and event study methods. The analysis demonstrates that social movements can in some circumstances shape both the markets and fields that firms inhabit. Specifically, anti-sweatshop campaigns (1. had negative effects on sales (though only among certain types of firms), (2. influenced stock prices, and (3. shaped specialized ratings of corporate responsibility. They also diminished previously positive corporate reputations (to a modest degree) but did not radically alter reputational hierarchies in the business community.

Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, 2011

From the summary:
In many ways the power of the social protection floor lies in its simplicity. The floor is based on the idea that everyone should enjoy at least basic income security sufficient to live, guaranteed through transfers in cash or in kind, such as pensions for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child benefits, income support benefits and/or employment guarantees and services for the unemployed and working poor. Together, in cash and in kind transfers should ensure that everyone has access to essential goods and services, including essential health services, primary education, housing, water and sanitation.

This report, prepared under the guidance of Ms Michelle Bachelet and members of the Advisory Group, shows that the extension of social protection, drawing on social protection floors, can play a pivotal role in relieving people of poverty and deprivation. It can in addition help people adapt their skills to overcome the constraints that block their full participation in a changing economic and social environment, contributing to improved human capital development and stimulating greater productive activity. The report also shows how social protection has helped to stabilize aggregate demand in times of crisis and to increase resilience against economic shocks, contributing to accelerate recovery towards more inclusive and sustainable development paths.

Labor Unions and Charity

Source: Roland Zullo, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 64, No. 4, July 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Drawing on two independent datasets, the author examines organized labor’s role as a benefactor for community-based charity. A population-level analysis of Michigan data indicates that union member density and union local density are positively associated with per capita donations to regional United Ways. An individual-level analysis of CPS data corroborates the Michigan findings and reveals that unionists are more likely than non-unionists to be engaged in community affairs and to volunteer for charitable organizations. Moreover, unionists disproportionately volunteer to provide medical care, fire/EMS or protective services; collect and distribute clothing, crafts, or non-food goods; coach or referee; volunteer in music or other arts; tutor or teach; and mentor youth. The findings suggest that unions function in part as vehicles for collectivizing asset and volunteer resources among their members for redistribution to community-based charitable causes, thereby reducing social inequity.

2010 Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work

Source: American Rights at Work Education Fund, 2010

From the summary:
In our sixth annual Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, the American Rights at Work Education Fund recognizes employers who practice labor-management cooperation while creating pioneering solutions to the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The eight businesses featured see their workers’ unions as essential partners, and consider environmental stewardship a key component of their business model. At a time when the leadership of bold, visionary employers is in high demand, this year’s Labor Day List companies provide a model for the “win-win-win” economy our country needs–an economy in which businesses thrive, the planet prospers, and workers share in the success they help create.

Carpe Crisis: Capitalizing on the Breakdown of Capitalism to Consider the Creation of Social Businesses

Source: Celia Taylor, New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 743, 2010

From the abstract:
The recent meltdown of the world’s financial systems presents a unique opportunity to examine the very nature of the corporate form and to consider whether other models of business operation are needed. This article explains the idea of “social businesses” – profit-making, but not profit-maximizing entities that operate to further social good instead of exclusively generating returns for their shareholders. The article then explores the current legal regime for both profit and non-profit businesses under United States law, and suggests there is no ideal business structure currently available under which to operate a social business. In light of the increasing recognition that corporations can and should do more than profit-maximize, the article suggests a need for more flexibility to laws governing business entities.