Voluntary Adoption of Safe Working Conditions
Pollution Standards Is Possible
In our blogs of 4/18/2006 and 4/21/2006, we proposed that a voluntary system be adopted by manufacturers throughout the world to improve working conditions and pollution standards. This compliance would be voluntary with manufacturers certifying their own conformity to the international standard through a third party or by self-compliance. Businesses that become certified will be able to promote this certification to increase sales and over time businesses and consumers will prefer to purchase only from companies that meet this standard.
In the Chinese Business Review there is an article describing work standards in China. What is most interesting in this report is the fact that the Government of China has laws on its books that regulate work rules to protect their workers. The laws are very good laws but they are seldom scrupulously followed. Those manufacturers that have a world wide presence are the ones that most frequently follow the Chinese Laws. Small local manufacturers are the ones most likely not to comply with the Chinese National Work Standards. Most international corporations realize the need for good working conditions and for sound environmental policy. They work in an environment that favors good corporate citizenship.
Our blog from September 27, 2006 comments on a Mindy Fetterman article in USA Today about the efforts of Wal-Mart to be recognized as environmentally friendly. If Wal-Mart seeks to act as a friend to the environment from altruistic motives that is great. If this concern for the environment is for the purpose of improving its image, the environment benefits nonetheless. We have reached the point where good corporate citizenship has become a real asset just like brick and mortar assets. The people in the markets that international corporations seek to reach are deeply concerned with the environment and with the living condition of those in other parts of the Globe. A negative reputation hurts companies on the sales floor where it matters most.
As more and more International Corporations wish to be seen as good corporate citizens, it is clear that a voluntary standard could be applied by these manufacturers among themselves in their world wide operations. The standard could be patterned after the ISO 9000 Quality Standards. The evidence from China demonstrates that even if the compliance expectation is set low, the majority of the international business community will rise above that low standard to a higher one they see as appropriate.
We welcome your comments regarding this matter. Do you agree or disagree with such a proposal?