So, in light of recent events like 385 people dying in a poorly run Bangladesh factory collapse and the unrest that has resulted, I ask myself how socially responsible is socially responsible really?
Lots of manufacturing companies these days want to call themselves socially responsible but are they really? Now we all understand that everyone is in business to make a profit. Popular consensus is that being “socially responsible” or “green” doesn’t always mix with running a profitable company, but I would have to disagree. Arthur Caplan, chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s medical ethics department says that “fashion companies had better be pretty green and socially conscious, because they’re very much about image, …they’re selling products that induce guilt. Who needs all that high-end stuff? You’d better do what you can to make it guilt-free.”
Consumers and shoppers are becoming more and more educated, aware, and even skeptical of so-called “organic” anything or “green” companies. For this reason, it is imperative that companies create policies and stick to them. According to University of Missouri 2011 research, consumers are willing to pay an extra 15 to 20 percent for truly socially responsible or “green” products so it just may be in company’s best interests to change their practices.
Most of us have seen the issues that some companies have had with their consumption of water and fertilizer in cotton production, chemical processing at plants, airway and environmental pollution, worker safety problems like the disaster in Bangladesh, and fair wage and child labor exploitation. So what to do about it? When shopping in-store or online, check the label for where the product was manufactured, its fiber content and also look for the brand’s information on their code of conduct or social responsibility policy. Most companies employing socially responsible international policies publicize the information and post it on their websites such as J.Crew and the PPR Group (Gucci, Balenciaga, McQueen, etc).
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