There were campaigns, massive ones, for greater accountability of the giants of globalisation. These were sparked off by terrible scandals, raising serious concerns about the psychological health of C-level executives. Some people wondered if our world wasn’t being run by psychopaths. Not, for example, some pinko public health institution or the ILO, but one of the global meccas of business administration, INSEAD, Paris: The Psychopath in the C-Suite.
But let’s not get carried away by all these good-for-nothing academic types. It was all paranoia as borne out by subsequent events. Who needed “big government”, why revive the spectre of people power when we can simply draw up perfectly pragmatic, ethically sound policies on corporate social responsibility (CSR as it is often called)?
So, as the brave new post-Y2Kalypse world got going and the global “business community” still faced huge protests from the global justice people every time they gathered, whether in Genoa or Copenhagen, the CSR idea really took off – almost a fashion in terms of how seriously large corporations started to take it. It was no longer a question of that cute little email footer reminding the recipient to think of the environment before printing it. No, this time, business was seriously going to reform itself.
For example, the latest episode from Taylor Farms, California, a McDonald’s supplier:
“Multiple reports have documented the failures of voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) codes in global supply chains, but less attention has been paid to how they have been implemented in the United States. This report is a case study of how McDonald’s Corporation implemented its Supplier Code of Conduct when it was alerted to violations of workers’ rights to freedom of association at one of its suppliers, Taylor Fresh Foods, commonly known as Taylor Farms. The report documents systematic and serious violations of workers’ fundamental rights protected under international labor standards and McDonald’s own Supplier Code of Conduct to freely associate and bargain collectively at Taylor Farms. Further, it finds that McDonald’s approach not only failed to prevent or remediate grave violations of workers’ rights, it helped undermine workers’ free exercise of their rights.”