Monday, December 10, 2012

Changing the Game: Stewardship in the Marketplace

In class today we took a look at Ariel's post, and thought more about where our clothes come from, and the unacceptable work conditions in sweatshops. As there were recent controversies with Apple's factory conditions in China and a fire in a Bangladesh factory killing 112 workers, many businesses are taking considerable actions to turn their company's production methods around. Every year a report of Fortune 100 companies is released measuring employers, sellers, and steward. In the 2012 Good Company Index, a new king was crowned: Time Warner Cable, over throwing Disney. "The entertainment giant saw its Good Company Index grade fall from an A, the top score in the inaugural ranking, to a C+."

 Our teacher mentioned that companies that are supposed to be the face of America (such as Disney, Wal-Mart, and Nike) are often the ones who take advantage of cheap foreign labor with dreadful factory conditions overseas. Although the opportunity of cheaper labor and production is tempting to many of these money hungry companies, there are still several companies demonstrating excellent responsibility with their production methods. Gap Inc. is taking steps forward in their anti-sweatshop advocacy. Some plans for the clothing conglomerate to improve labor conditions include instituting a system which allows the consumer to directly track exactly where/by whom their garment was made all online. More can be read about Gap's sweatshop free plan here. Why don't you think in the wake of all this controversy, more companies aren't making adaptations like Gap? In your eyes, would this change your views on some of the companies who abuse low wage factory workers but make a conscious effor for change? Please comment your thoughts below.


  1. I think this is a really interesting post, Noah. I think while factory accidents keep getting press and more awareness is spread about it, unfortunately they keep occurring. I like the idea of the Good Company Index because it incentivizes companies to keep improving, however as you say, the brands with the most profits are the ones who are rewarded. Miserably however, the companies with the most profit are the ones who take advantage of cheap, unsafe labor. I like the idea of where Gap Inc. is going with its anti-sweatshop advocacy. I wonder if other companies will follow in suit. If there was an accolade commemorating fair trade and safe labor, similar to the Good Company Index, maybe other companies would go for it. That is one type of press that would not hurt anybody, even the heartless, apathetic CEOs depicted in the political cartoon above.

  2. This is a very interesting topic, and a great post Noah. I think that although companies like Gap are getting awareness for their positive actions, it is not significant enough for other companies to want to do it also. The answer to why large companies continue to use unfair, cheap labor overseas is very simple. MONEY. The primary purpose of a company is to make a profit at the end of the day. If somehow more and more companies started to make changes for the better, like Gap, then it would be possible for the companies who abuse labor to run out of business. But it seems very unlikely for a trend to develop towards using American, fair labor, since that isn't the best way to make a profit.