The corporate social responsibility miragePhoto: Raffi Asdourian, Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Twenty-five years after the start of the first CSR programs, they form an international multi-billion-dollar industry. But unsafe, illegal conditions continue in supply chain factories throughout the world.

The corporate social responsibility miragePhoto: Raffi Asdourian, Flickr, (Creative Commons)

“Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs began in the early 1990s with the promise of eliminating dangerous and illegal “sweatshops” in the global supply chains of world-renown corporations selling consumer products like garments, electronics, sports shoes and toys. Twenty-five years later, CSR is an international multi-billion-dollar industry, but unsafe, illegal conditions continue in supply chain factories throughout the world”, Garrett Brown states.

Over the last twenty years, many researchers, organizations and media outlets have reported on the utility of CSR programs. These reports have shown that while dire working conditions within the supply chain by and large persist, CSR programs have been beneficial for the companies themselves. Namely, they have a profitable effect on the relationships that brands maintain with customers and shareholders.

Brown concludes: “Experience indicates that little will change unless there is a corporatewide integration of the CSR programs’ ostensible goals with the corporations’ actual sourcing policies and practices; unless the ineffective and corrupted monitoring by for-profit CSR auditors is replaced; and unless there is meaningful participation by factory-level workers in the development and implementation of CSR and OHS programs.”

Read more here.