Corporate Social Responsibility – all that glitters is not gold

Veröffentlicht: Mai 14, 2012 von Ms. Monday Jana in Know How, Uncategorized
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Today, my tendency to always be late for appointments had a great effect for the first time: I was standing there at the Metro station and waiting for the train to come. I still had a few minutes to go. There was nothing else to do than to stare at the huge poster advertisings on the walls of the train station and listen to the music on my ipod. I guess I am the kind of consumer companies are hoping for when they are renting such places for their advertisements. Don’t they? Since I use public transport almost every day, I know those posters by heart. It would be interesting to know how much time in my life I have already spent with just waiting at this one train station, starring at the advertisements and listening to music.

The newest poster today was a big red one by Kik Textil-Diskont, an advertising for the great carreers it offers. The company seems to have a big demand for young talents. I think all of you must be aware of the scandals Kik was and is still involved in: The main criticism are the inhuman working conditions of the textile workers in Bangladesh. If you want to get an update on this discussion, check out the latest Spiegel online article. Nowadays, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become very important to the consumers and it has therefore somehow turned into a „must have“ for companies. When starring at this poster, I was wondering: does CSR simply have the use to improve marketing effects or do companies really act in a socially responsible way? This topic has already been part of discussions I have had with friends or in class. Luise’s article „Auch intern sozial?“ also reminded me of it. Kik might offer great careers for employees in Germany, but what about the workers in Bangladesh? As almost every company, it has a lot of information about all it’s social activities on the website. Klick on the website of any bigger company and I guarantee you that you will definitely find the term „social responsibility“ on their homepage. CSR is just one click away! But those a just great statements. Maybe just great statements which can be used for Marketing and lower the risk of a bad reputation or a scandal?

There are various examples similar to the case Kik. For example the Metro Group. In 2010, Oxfam published an interesting and very comprehensive research paper on the working conditions of Metro Group employees in India and the effects of the company’s entry on the Indian wholesale market. The results were qite negative: the working conditions were precarious, especially the agricultural workers were earning less than the minimum wage and small traders were squeezed out of the market and therefore loosing their income. All this was taking place although the company has comitted itself to global guidelines and policies like the BSCI Code of Conduct and UN Global Compact and also has it’s own guidelines regarding environment, discrimination, fairworking conditions etc.

To me, this is another proof for the fact that we should be really careful regarding this topic and keep our eyes open. As we say in Germany, unfortunately, a lot of things communicated by companies are „mehr Schein als Sein“ – there is less to them than meets the eye.

  1. Sofia sagt:

    Hello Jana,

    I think the words „Corporate Social Responsibility“ are very essential for companies today. But which companies act really social responsible? I think the examples are very rare.

    A few weeks ago I posted about Kik and Trigema ( I mentioned the documentary film from Christoph Lütgert, who visited the manufacturing plant from Kik in Bangladesh. But also in Germany, Kik caused big trouble about the working conditions for their employees in the shops. Before working for Kik, I would convince myself that they really have improved in the thinks which caused scandals in the past.

  2. Ms. Monday Jana sagt:

    Hi Sofia,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with you – it is quite difficult to find companies which really act socially responsible. Your example of Trigema was a really interesting one. I think a very important point is to focus on transparency. If the companies would create more transparency regarding their processes and the origin of the material used for their products as well as the ways of production (like Trigema does) it would be more easy for the consumer to distinguish which product to buy.

  3. Hallo Jana,

    if you are interested about the „dark sides“ about certain industries you should seriously consider to read the following book:

    Best regards,


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