The question of ethical business practices have elicited a lot of debate in the contemporary business world. At the core of the debate is the need to have a sound business methodology that is sensitive to communities and the planet earth. Then, the question becomes, how pragmatic it is to employ a highly profitable business model that is still beneficial to the general welfare of the community and preservation of the environment?
Take the case of the car industry for instance. Human rights activists have expressed their concerns about the status of humans rights in the industry and the negative consequences thereof. The assumption that car consumers make is that car manufacturers have followed the local, national, and international laws. In addition to that, it is assumed that the car industry have followed the accepted labor standards, code of ethics, and the spirit of corporate social responsibility. Unfortunately, if the reality on the ground is anything to go by, such ideals are just but an illusion.
Human Right Watch
The car industry has been accused by prominent human rights professions of disrespecting the set labor standards in order to stretch their profit margins.
Another issue facing the car industry is the issue of suppliers. Giant car makers absolve themselves from blame by stating that actions carried out by their suppliers, whether right or wrong actions, are not under their jurisdiction. However, responsible business people do not do that. On the contrary, if they notice that their suppliers do not respect human rights, the most prudent action is to sanction them, or at worst terminate doing business with them. In other words, if respecting human rights will mean that the car giants lose some reliable suppliers, so be it.
Similarly, the government should be more vocal and play a leading role in ensuring that there is constant compliance of the laid down rules and regulations. For example, the US is overly sensitive to the question of minimum age and other factors such as the number of working hours. Auto makers should be careful to respect them by all means. However, there are suppliers of auto products whose country of origin is not the US. In such a case, the government should ensure that such suppliers follow the accepted human rights standards.
The Toyota You Did Not Know
Toyota is one of the most pronounced car makers in the world. It has employed a significant number people thus providing constant source of labor. It has been credited for coming up with a number of innovative discoveries, the lean model for instance. There is no doubt whatsoever that the company has me contribution to the auto industry.
However, it has found itself on the receiving end after eminent personalities questioned its human status. The US National Labor Committee made a scathing attack on Toyota stating that the company has carried out planned and target specific labor abuses not just in its own operations but also in its supply chain.
Having said that, the following are some of the issues that have faced Toyota at one time or the other:
- Overseas branches and their affairs
- deteriorating corporate values
- The issue of mineral conflict
Other Notable Examples
According to the Guardian, GM, BMW, and FORD, are sourcing iron from Brazil thereby causing heavy deforestation in the Amazon region. Campaigners of Greenpeace add that the said car companies have a hand (albeit a distant hand) in promoting slave labor and illegal logging in the indigenous and protected lands.
Another bone of contention in the Amazon is buying steel. By buying steel that is gotten through illegal structures and behavior, the said car companies are seen as a rubber stamp to such illegal activities. There has been accusations that these car makers carry out corporate social responsibility as a camouflage to their unethical business practices.
The car industry ought to rethink its policy towards human rights and access if it is in deed consequential. In connection to this, such policies should not be all paper work but also action. For example, the car industries should stop the exploitation of the Amazon region with immediate effect.
Similarly, the governments should lay down a clear-cut legislation policy that will ensure sourcing of raw materials in the cars monitored and. All the same, the most responsible that individual companies should do is to respect the human rights starsards by all means necessary.
- Australia: Protests Over Energy Costs, Workers Rights - December 2, 2015
- Human Rights Watch- a Closer Look at the Car Industry - November 30, 2015
- Everything You Need to Know About the Asian Pacific Action - November 12, 2015