Clear guidance on CSR for the global electronics sector

Oct 26, 2009
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A new publication released today by the GoodElectronics network and the Dutch CSR Platform sets concrete and ambitious recommendations for the electronics sector. 'Reset' offers guidance to companies in addressing human rights and environmental issues in the global electronics supply chain. 'Reset' argues for a more serious involvement of civil society organisations, trade unions in the first place. The publication gives an analytical review of the failing effectiveness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the global electronics sector. It provides a sample of progressive initiatives and recommended steps for companies to enhance their social and environmental performance.

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Corporate social responsibility is not yet part of what companies in the electronics sector consider as their core business. The new publication Reset. Corporate social responsibility in the global electronics supply chain reflects an ambitious vision on CSR. The basic operational principles that the Dutch CSR Platform and GoodElectronics consider essential for the implementation of an effective and credible CSR policy include supply chain responsibility, stakeholder involvement, transparency, and public reporting.

Reset describes the impact of the global electronics sector on communities, workers and the environment. It gives insight into serious problems occurring in different phases of the supply chain: the mining of metals used in electronic products, the production, and the disposal of obsolete products. Problems include sourcing from conflict zones, gender discrimination, increasing job insecurity, health risks for workers and local communities, wide scale dumping of waste in developing countries and the occurrence of child labour in waste processing.

International coordinator of GoodElectronics, Pauline Overeem: “Among the most pressing issues in the production phase is the non-respect for the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, disabling workers to address sub-standard working conditions, including long working hours, forced overtime, low wages, and all kinds of discriminatory practices.”

Lack of effective regulations and inadequate corporate CSR initiatives such as half-baked codes of conduct come at great cost to workers’ rights, health and safety, environmental standards and social protection. This analysis is set-off by a sampling of progressive initiatives and recommended steps that are relevant to business, government and civil society. These steps include investing in complaint mechanisms, mature industrial relations, worker education and collaboration among buyers and suppliers.

Reset is an elaboration of the 2007 CSR Frame of Reference published by the Dutch CSR Platform and the GoodElectronics ‘Common Demands’. The Dutch CSR Platform is a network of Dutch civil society organisations and trade unions that are working together to promote CSR. GoodElectronics is an international civil society network for contributing to sustainability and human rights in the global electronics sector.

 

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