Corporate Social Responsibility In The Garment Industry: An Analysis Of The Documentary “Blood, Sweat, And Tshirts”

Ethical issues presented in the documentary

The garment industry is one of the major industries of the world and runs at a large scale throughout the world. This profitable business employs the majority of the working population in the developing countries and is one of the most lucrative businesses in the present time (Argiolas, 2017). The garment industry consists of a number of different types of manufacturing units running under it which run in cohesion to meet the market’s clothing and fashion needs. The topic analyses the documentary “Blood, Sweat and Tshirts”, which gives the audience an insight in the garment factory workers of Dharavi, a slum area in Mumbai, India. The topic researches to understand the concept of the Corporate Social Responsibility of the garment industries in Dharavi. I also analyses if the factories adhere to the ethical norms of running an organization.  The documentary being considered here raises a major question of the working condition of the employees in the garment factories of Dharavi. the documentary delves into the working conditions of the laborers in these garment factories and how much they are affected by the working conditions of the factory (Mezzadri, 2016). Most of the garment factories of Dharavi are cramped spaces with improper working conditions which affect the psyche of the employees. Moreover, working in the limited spaces for a majority of the time causes the employees to develop a number of issues. the documentary makers reveal the harsh living and working conditions of the factory employees in Dharavi. The directors of the documentary were not aware of these situations and were shaken to the core due to the sheer human rights violation prevalent in these factories. The documentary raises the issue of the CSR violation by the companies in making the people work in such conditions.

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the set of responsibilities to be followed by the organizations running businesses to fulfill the social debts that the company has towards the environment and their employees. CSR includes a number of responsibilities to ensure the well being of the environment and the society to ensure the socially sustainable running of the organization. The organization operating a business should ensure the benefits of the various stakeholders involved with the organization and ensure the safety of its employees along with meeting the organizational goals (Carroll, 2015). With the increase in the business in this sector the number of organizations serving the consumers have increased and thus their responsibility of maintaining the social welfare within their organization. there have been various criticisms of the multinational organizations , citing their responsibility to take proper care of the employees within their organization. The organizations also have a responsibility to work for the social welfare of the social environment in which they operate and help in development of the society. the CSR also encompasses the organization’s responsibility to work for the environment and help in improving the environmental conditions by causing minimal harm and using environment friendly practices in the organization (Mezzadri, 2014). The CSR functions of an organization can be viewed in two ways,  the broad view and the narrow view. The broad view encompasses all the factors that the organization should pay heed to as its CSR.  For a sustainable development and growth so that the future generations may benefit from the resources and development the organization should  fulfill their CSR.

Broad View of Corporate Social Responsibility

The alternative of broad view of the CSR is the narrow view of the CSR to be followed in the operations of the organization. This view if the CSR is more concerned on maximizing the profits for the business rather than fulfilling the CSR for the welfare of the people. The narrow view is focused on the fulfilling the CSR enough to operate their business smoothly and not on the ensuring the welfare and the well-being of the society. In this approach, the focus is set on the generation of maximum revenue rather than work for the welfare of the society. The organization does noty pay any heed to the damage it is causing the society and the environment as long as it meets the functions needed for the operating of the organization (Christensen, Mackey & Whetten, 2014). With the current awareness in the society the organizations are changing their stance to maintain their brand image. Then  organization have now understood that the present society is socially aware and will not refrain from taking drastic measure if the companies do not fulfill their CSR. The CSR of the present organizations are mainly regarding the environmental issues and social welfare which helps in building the society.

The majority of the slum factories make the t shirts are making it for the foreign companies and this causes their CSR approach to be narrow usually. Their CSR is based on gaining the maximum profit out of their business ventures making it a very narrow CSR approach.  The profit margin of these organizations depends on the mass production of the goods ,which can only be achieved with the constant running of the factories at a low cost. The outsourcing of the work to the poor and the developing countries is one of the major reasons of the rise of the slum factories (Flammer, 2015). The outsourcing of the task occurs due to the easy availability of the cheap labor in the developing and the underdeveloped countries. The multinational clothing brands outsourcing their jobs to the poor and developing countries do not pay any heed to the  condition of the workers in these slum factories. These organizations are more concerned with the maximization of profit by cutting of the cost of production leading to the narrow CSR approach regarding the workers and their work environment. The documentary shows the condition of the workers who manufacture quality goods for the organization and profit. Moreover, these Multinationals have a very constricted approach regarding their corporate social responsibility as the labors of the factories are not their direct employees and their welfare in not the concern of the Multinationals. Therefore, in this divided organizational structure the human rights of the labors are hampered.

Narrow View of CSR

The CSR is an organization is to be followed at all the levels for the acceptance of the CSR as a broader view. The CSR is the part of the organizational culture within the organization and the narrow and the broad view are developed by the organizations based on their goals and the stockholders they cater to. The Multinational organizations cannot be solely held responsible for the violation of the human rights in factories in Dharavi, Mumbai (De Neve, 2014). The multinational companies cannot oversee all  the operations that are being done in the overseas organizations they are outsourcing to. The point problems of  MNCs which go in the favor of their narrow approach in CSR are the various barriers that they face in the overseeing of the operations of their outsourced factories, the most important of which are the geographical and the legislative issues across different countries (Hopkins, 2016). It is also financially not conducive to give all the facilities to the outsourced employees as it will add to the cost burden and will nullify the reason for which the company had out sourced the work in the first place. It is not possible for the MNCs to ensure that every place they outsource to they can make sure that the CSR global norms are being followed. Moreover, the companies they outsource to run by the law of another country in which the MNC has no say.  These arguments may sound strong but are in no way a justification of the rundown condition of the garment factories in which the people are forced to work.

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The Broader View of the CSR states that all the organization which are operating in a society and profiting from it should fulfill some moral duties towards the welfare of the society and the environment. This means that the organizations should take care of the natural habitat, which provides them raw materials, and the society, which are the main stakeholders within the organization. the environment is undergoing a constant change and is greatly threatened by the constant rise of industrialization. To attain constant growth and sustainable development in the society, the organizations have to keep in mind that the society should develop for the organizations to flourish and gain profit (Kilkenny, 2014). The ill working conditions in the Tshirt factories of Dharavi violate those rights and hinder the development of the laborers binding them to work in inhumane conditions for long stretches. . The broader view is necessary as the availability of proper workplace environment and facilities not only increases the production but also makes the employees loyal to the organization. The maintenance   of the proper human rights is one of the major issues, which will further improve the working conditions of the employees in such conditions. This view of the CSR adheres to the ideal of providing the proper facilities of the working conditions, proper facilities and maintaining the environmental balance ensuring the proper sustainable development within the organization helping in the growth and development within the organization.

CSR view of the Clothing Retailers

In the documentary studied in this topic the narrow CSR approach of the apparel  maker and the international apparel sellers. The international apparel brands who outsource their work to countries like India do not pay much heed to the working condition of the employees who work in the factories they outsource to.  The constantly deteriorating condition of the workers in these factories with the increasing demand of improved production and the lack of the working space harms the workers (Preuss, 2013). The factories that are operated in India work on the basis of fulfilling the needs of the owners rather than providing the proper working condition. The owners of these factories who take the task from the western MNCs focus on getting the maximum profit from the work assigned to them and for this they need to maintain the quality of the raw materials. The owners of these factories tend to increase their profit by curtailing on the pay of the employees in the factories and cutting down on the basic facilities that should be provided within an organization. the working conditions grow to deteriorate further with the increasing demand  of the low priced Indian market goods in the western world. The Apparel sellers of the western world are not bound to follow the CSR.

The education that the documentary has given about the working and the dismal condition of the t shirt factories in India. The documentary brought to light the different conditional issues that the workers face while working in an organization. The information provided by the documentary about the working condition of the factories is causing a change in the outlook of the general population which is making the society aware of the adverse conditions in which the workers making this fashion garments are forced to work ( Suliman, Al-Khatib & Thomas, 2016). The  pressure from the stakeholders and the consumer base have forced these apparel agencies to develop a Broader CSR approach gradually. This gradual change in the international markets gives hope of possible change in the future that the condition of the workers in these factories will gradually increase (Tripathi & Singh, 2014). The fashion lovers gradually understand the importance of the ethical practices that need to be involved in the products they use and their opinion greatly affects the market. The companies now under the pressure of the consumers who choose to buy the products that are ethically manufactured causing a great change in the working environment of the factory workers of the slums. The narrow approach of the apparel sellers are gradually changinging towards a broader one due to awareness of the consumer base. The change in the CSR opinions of these organizations is extremely necessary for the social improvement of the T shirt factory workers.

Explanation of the narrow View

The principle of the ethical care in social relationship states that in all kinds of social relationships the various parties involved in the relationship should care about the well being of each other. The one who gives care and the one receives it have certain responsibilities towards each other. Since the relationships are mutually dependent on each other both the parties should give and receive care at once (Takkar, 2015). The workers in the organization are entitled to certain benefits and facilities in return of their services within the organization. in this documentary it is shown that the workers care for the organization and provide their duties to the best of their abilities but the organizations do not care enough for the condition of the worker, thus not fulfilling their CSR. The documentary portrays the CSR as the ethical duty of the organization towards the workers it benefits from (Phillips, et al., 2014). The organizations should care about the various people who work for them and help them meet their organizational goals. On the other hand it is also the duty of the organization to take proper care of the environment from which it gets its raw materials for production. The companies should pay more heed to the fulfilling of the CSR as it has the major impact on the productivity and the overall organizational development within an organization.

The condition of the issues presented in the documentary takes into account a number of problems prevalent in the working environment and the lack of the companies’ willingness to fulfill their CSR. The CSR is one of the major issues brought forward by the documentary raising the question that who is responsible for improving the working conditions of these poor worker who tend to work in inhuman conditions (Shin, 2014). The different organizations  should take responsibility of helping the people who are in need. The changes of maintaining a functional CSR should start from the side of the affluent sellers who outsource their work. They  should refrain from getting finished products from the companies who do not provide an ethical environment to their employees to work. The workers should also be made aware of their rights so that they can stand up for them and ask the rightful facilities and requirements they should be provided while working in organization. In India, the population is huge and the labor is available at a cheap rate because of which the  t shirt factory owners tend to exploit the workers (Jamali, Lund-Thomsen & Khara, 2017). There should be a legal provision in every country to ensure the rights of the poor workers who work their hearts out to survive in this society.


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