Browsing by Subject "Corporate Social Responsibility"

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  • Nordman, Jenna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis examines actual and potential human rights impacts of fashion industry. The main approach on subject is from the viewpoint of business and human rights, but corporate social responsibility and sustainability are utilised and discussed as well. Fashion industry in the thesis is defined in an encompassing manner, including productions, marketing and retailing of clothes, footwear, accessories, and cosmetics. Fashion industry is the second largest sector of industry in the world. Many different areas of human rights, recognised in international human rights instruments, are impacted directly and indirectly through actions and functions of fashion industry. ‘Race to the bottom’ and fast fashion phenomenon have pushed down the prices and quality of fashion merchandise during the past decades. Fashion industry is labour-intensive and low prices are often the result of poor working conditions and remunerations that are significantly below living wages. Child labour, forced labour, dangerous working conditions and lack of unionisation are common and result to widespread egregious human rights violations in the manufacturing and production of the raw materials in fashion industry. Industry’s use of natural resources is often reckless and wasteful, and overproduction has resulted to discarding and destroying large quantities of unsold merchandise. More direct human rights impacts, relating to fashion industry and environment, can occur through use and disposal of chemicals and dyes in the manufacturing processes that can have an affect on the living standards and health of the surrounding communities. Different forms of discrimination have been commonly manifested within the industry. There have been numerous lawsuits on discrimination and harassment in workplaces in fashion industry. Statistics, as well as researches based on interviews, show diversity to be realised poorly in the fashion business. Portraying harmful and offensive stereotypes in marketing practices and advertisement reflects problems of discrimination that are deep rooted in the company cultures of the industry and portrays lack of awareness on the issue. Right to property is often infringed in the fashion industry, since copying designs is a common custom. Most well-known cases are between major fashion labels, but in this work, the focus is on rights of small designers and on cultural property of distinct culturally unified groups of people. Taking intellectual property without permission from independent designer can potentially infringe their right to property as well standard of living and using cultural property of a distinct community can be an offensive on the group’s dignity, beliefs and traditions as well as infringement on their economic rights. In this thesis these issues are approached with a somewhat holistic manner. The main tool is the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and a loose template of human rights impact assessment, based on the principles, but issues are processed from multiple focus points. There are currently various voluntary models for responsible business practices as well as national laws and different initiatives on corporate social responsibility, business and human right and sustainable business conduct. This fragmentation makes it essential to approach the issue with an all-inclusive method.
  • Virtanen, Aino (Helsingfors universitet, 2013)
    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) addresses the responsibility of companies for their impacts on society. The concept of strategic CSR is becoming increasingly mainstreamed in the forest industry, but there is, however, little consensus on the definition and implementation of CSR. The objective of this research was to build knowledge on the characteristics of CSR and to provide insights on the emerging trend to increase the credibility and legitimacy of CSR through standardization. The study explored how the sustainability managers of European and North American forest companies perceive CSR and the recently released international ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility. The conclusions were drawn from an analysis of two data sets; multivariate survey data based on one subset of 30 European and 13 North American responses, and data obtained through in-depth interviewing of 10 sustainability managers that volunteered for a phone interview about social responsibility practices at their company. The analysis concluded that there are no major differences in the characteristics of cross-Atlantic CSR. Regarding the components of CSR, environmental issues and organizational governance were key priorities in both regions, whereas consumer issues, human rights, and financial issues were among the least addressed categories. Regarding ISO 26000 guidance standard, the study revealed that there were varying perceptions, both positive and negative. Moreover, sustainability managers of European and North American forest companies were still uncertain regarding the applicability of the ISO 26000 guidance standard to the forest industry. The findings are in line with the earlier research that suggests that as an extractive industry, the forest-based industry tends to address environmental issues as a priority area of CSR. The results are also consistent with previous research that suggests that CSR is a case- and company-specific concept. This study is among the first to provide a preliminary review of the practical implications of the ISO 26000 standard in the forest sector. The results may be utilized by sustainability managers interested in the best practices on CSR, and also by a variety of forest industrial stakeholders interested in the practical outcomes of the long-lasting CSR debate.
  • Lehtinen, Nadja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This Master’s thesis explores sustainability indicators intended for corporations and how conceptual, policy related and methodological aspects are visible in the indicators. Sustainability has gone from being a marginal ecological idea, to a mainstream movement and can today be seen as one of the leading aspirations of the 21th century. Sustainability is apparent in political discussions, business actions and our everyday lives. One of the challenges of sustainability is that there are hundreds of definitions, the term is overused, and new indicators and measurements are created continuously. Based on the aforementioned facts, I wonder if it is even possible to measure this global concept and phenomena that has hundreds of different definitions. However, many definitions of sustainability are similar in the way that they are based on the three pillars: Economy, Environment and Society. The case study explores SDG Compass, which is a collaboration project between the international organizations United Nations (UN), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The project has gathered hundreds of business tools and thousands of business indicators in to a database that can be used by corporations. All the data included in the project are based on the framework of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations in 2015. With a mixed-methods approach I have conducted a thematic content analysis and quantitative analysis focusing on studying the conceptuality, policy relevance and methodology of the data. The aim of the study is to add to the transparency around sustainability indicators and show the complexity of a selection of indicators current indicators intended for businesses. When it comes to conceptuality the analysis showed that the three pillars Economy, Environment and Society are all visible in the data and balanced with equal amounts of indicators. When it comes to policy relevance the analysis showed that private, public and civil society institutions are all visible as indicator issuing organizations in the SDG compass. However, I argue that the role of The UN is the most relevant and powerful when it comes to sustainability indicators. When it comes to methodology the SDG compass data follows the general criterions recognized in the literature as criterions for good indicators, and the results suggests SDG compass indicators are of a high quality.  
  • Nguyen Quoc, Anh (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    The politics of land acquisitions in the time of convergence of multiple capitalist crises recently have received international scholarly attention. However, land grabbing has arguably resulted in inevitable resistance, conflicts, and the inability of the landless to adapt with a new socioeconomic transformation after dispossession. This is due to unequal power between a powerful, compatible interests, and predatory state-capital alliance, on the one side, and powerless rural local people affected by the land acquisitions, on the opposite side. This thesis problematizes the current mainstream assumptions around land grabbing, and generate additional insights about the politics of land acquisition, and outcomes in the context of the post-socialist contemporary Vietnam. This is done by critically unpacking the interactive triangular matrix of state-capital-resistance, and corresponding outcomes during the implementation phase of land acquisition at local level. The particular focus is put on various roles deployed by state actors at the local level who justify, adjudicate, and implement land investment; and by societal groups, especially business, and resistance agents, to assert control over land for many purposes in the context of the post-socialist Vietnam. Drawing from the two-case studies in contemporary Vietnam, the thesis argues that the outcomes of large-scale land acquisition are diverse, complex, and far beyond the dominant assumptions, as showed in both “exceptional” case studies. While one case is characterized by the lack of resistance and inclusive development outcomes of land acquisition that benefits all involved parties; the other is associated with an unprecedented collective protest by rural people at the beginning, that significantly slowed down the project. The thesis argues that in order to understand the unexpected outcomes of land investment, i.e. why some investments are implemented more “successful” than others, it is necessary to deeply examine the dynamics of interactive roles by state-capital-resistance in micro-land politics of land acquisition. This study reveals a centrality of the “developmental local state mediators”, either proactively or reactively, in the land politics that largely explains the conflict resolution/prevention, and inclusive outcome in both case studies. The “developmental local state mediators” are characterized by the high level of the authoritative capacity/power to enforce the state‟s autonomous goals, and infrastructural capacity/power to deeply, and intensively engage with different, normally conflicting, social groups in order to facilitate the alignment of interests among them. This thesis sheds light on the importantly supportive roles by business actors in conflict presentation, particularly by directly participating in mediating process as team members, and indirectly financing the process. It also indicates surprising findings that even in the context of a hybrid land regime in Vietnam where land is owned by the state constitutionally, and the state, therefore, plays decisive roles in land acquisition, a combination of different strategies by a dynamics of segments within resistance (such as militant protest, communication, and networking) which resonates closely to theory of “rightful resistance”, led to the resistance having their demands answered. Fieldwork was conducted in two case studies in Hanoi city, and Thanh Hoa province. Primary data was collected by interviews, focus groups, and participant observations with key informants. Secondary data, such as records, interviews, images, videos, and documentation, were provided by various key stakeholders such as journalists, landless people, investors, and local officials.