Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important factor in a corporation’s management thinking ever since it has gained significance in the minds of customers, shareholders, non-governmental organizations, governmental bodies and several other stakeholders. There are plenty of contesting views on this issue, the most important ones being the benefits and drawbacks for businesses taking CSR seriously, the difficulty of administering CSR for multinationals, the plight of companies originating in developing nations, and a basic perceived conflict of interest between business and societal issues, which is believed by some to be the responsibility of governments. CSR is the most pertinent today in the area of child labor due to the sheer injustice it causes ethically, economically, and often legally. I hope to highlight that it is crucial to address Corporate Social Responsibility, in a general sense and specifically in the realm of child labor in our rapidly globalizing world of today. And while it will require some adjustments to how most businesses work currently, it will eventually be beneficial to all stakeholders in companies.
There are some companies that shudder when they hear the term Corporate Social Responsibility; it is often seen as an inconvenience to business and a waste of time and resources that leads to a depreciation of the bottom line. This is a narrow-minded outlook; it does not take into account how business practices have changed over the past five decades or so. Various businesses have become far more interconnected as a result of the sheer increase in the volume of business transactions on a global scale. This, along with the fact that news and happenings around the world are accessible to many at unprecedented levels today has led to this uproar by people, shareholders and customers in particular, demanding corporations to behave ethically and in morally acceptable ways: “which stakeholders are internal and which are external to the organization is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer” (Phillips and Caldwell). It is therefore the case that the large clothing manufacturer gets heavily criticized and boycotted for child labor malpractice when it is one of the suppliers of cotton in Uzbekistan, one of the many contracted by the company, who has forced children to quit school to handpick cotton all day at a miserable pay rate (International Labor Rights Forum). There is no way around it anymore – large multinationals can no longer say that it is the fault of one of their thousand suppliers.