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This literature review traces the journey taken by nations and organizations in establishing rights for employees. It focuses on the need to ensure investors get maximum return on their capital and at the same time offer their employees reasonable remuneration and freedom to enjoy their rights. The scope of this review starts from the history of Labour Human Rights (LHR) and examines how various authors have presented their case studies regarding the effectiveness or lack of it of the policies that govern workers. The criteria used include examining the theoretical aspects presented and the researchers conducted by these authors and other relevant bodies like the International Labour Organization.
Lisa Rodgers discusses the history of LHR and argues that global legal consciousness started during the mid of the 19th century and at the beginning of the First World War. She explains that the awakening relied on the differences between public and private laws that later transformed into a political ideology that supports liberalism. In addition, the second part of this awakening was based on the importance of social groups in establishing and promoting respect for laws and legal systems (Rodgers 2012).
Moreover, she claims that there exist tensions within human rights and social justice and uses the case of Ministry of Justice versus O’Brien where a judge challenged his pension benefits by arguing that he should have been paid as a full time legal consultant. Her presentation enables the audience to understand that LHR agitations started long time ago and will never stop.
Rosaria Burchielli, Annie Delaney, Jane Tate and Kylie Coventry present various forms of labour rights abuse in their 2009 report. They argue that homework is a form of slavery that makes the poor people to work extra hard to ensure they prove to the world that they are capable of performing better. This discussion shows that corporate social responsibility and supply chain management have issues that should be addressed to ensure the rights of workers are respected (Burchielli, Delaney, Tate and Coventry 2009).
The United Nations General Assembly plays an important role of conducting research and exposing the challenges facing workers in local and multinational corporations. Its 2010 report focussed on the period after submitting other presentations to the Human Rights Council in 2010. The report was about protecting, respecting and remedying extraterrestrial jurisdiction of investors and their employees. Earlier researches conducted exposed the issues of human rights abuse through corporate social responsibility approaches that were not regulated. It discovered that some investors hid behind the cover of corporate social responsibility to deny their workers and the public the opportunity to enjoy their rights (United Nations General Assembly 2011). The presence of this report and actions planned by the United Nations put organizations on notice and ensure they revise their LHR policies.
Jernej Letnar Cernic prepared a report that promoted corporate culture by highlighting the need to respect human rights to ensure business activities are managed smoothly. He uses J. Ruggies’s 2008 report to explain how the international community must be prepared to manage the effects of corporate in harming human rights (Cernic 2008). This means that the report focuses on how multinational and local investments have abused the rights of workers and the public by ignoring the importance of respecting them and addressing issues that promote their welfare.
He claims that the international community is at its infancy stage of embracing the need to respect human rights to ensure communities and individuals are protected from abuse by businesses. However, its suggestions including the formation of international bodies to monitor this issue and enacting strict penalties for offenders do not offer appropriate answers of how to regulate corporations (Cernic 2008). This makes his argument weak because it is not based on research findings that offer a true picture of how this should be done. There are bodies and regulations to curb human rights abuse by businesses and the formation of new ones will not help improve the existing situation.
Christopher Marquis, Rachael Soares and Mathew Lee’s works examine and argue that corporate social responsibility is a sustainability approach that promotes healthy relations between organizations and their publics. They focussed their arguments on the recent global economic crisis and how it illustrated the challenges of quick-return business investments like the housing boom witnessed in America and how long-term plans may affect the performance of investments (Marquis, Soares and Lee 2011).
They argue that all major investment stakeholders know that corporate sustainability is here to stay. In addition, they claim that board gender diversity transforms the performance of businesses because the benefits of this practice extend beyond the financial achievements of companies (Marquis, Soares and Lee 2011). They use a research finding done by Harvard Business School to explain that there is a strong relationship between gender-inclusive leadership and corporate social responsibility and recommend that companies should embrace this practise.
Izaskun Larrieta Rubin de Celis, Gurutze Intxaurburu Clemente and Eva Velasco Balmaseda argue that gendered approach to CSR influences performance of organizations and use Spanish Companies to prove their point. They discussed corporate social responsibility in the context of the existing challenges that enable investors to adjust and take advantage of the changes in society to develop new markets and ensure they grow (Rubin de Celis, Clemente and Balmaseda 2011).
They use a research done by the European community to discuss how gender issues affect the performance of corporate organisations and argue that equality should be included in corporate social responsibility. They claim that the principle of gender inclusion constitute moral claims that will eliminate biases created by biased business models. Therefore, they advocate for a new management trend that ensures women are incorporated in the daily running various organisations (Rubin de Celis, Clemente and Balmaseda 2011). They use a research conducted by Spanish Ministry of Equality to explain that Gendered Social Responsibility contributes to an overall improvement on the performance of companies.
The Council of Superannuation Investors examined the relationship between labour supply and human rights. It conducted research on various organisations and discovered that the issue of LHR is not a major issue in various companies. This means that most employers ignored the need to respect the rights of workers because of lack of a responsible watchdog body (Council of Superannuation Investors 2010). A research was conducted on ASX 200 and the results were shocking because this company does not do what its mission purports and there are gross violations of worker’s rights.
The council argues that a small percentage (1 %) of global companies is ranked highly in terms of the effective adoption of the 10 labour human rights policies in their premises. However, most of them do not even have LHR policies (Council of Superannuation Investors 2010). LHR policies have become common in emerging multinational companies but this is just a matter of public relations because they do not have practical applications of these guidelines. They continue to violate the rights of workers and their hosts cannot reprimand them for fear that they may relocate to other countries.
Aaron Bernstein and Christopher Greenwald compared different organizations and how their LHR policies differ and help their employees. They argue that investors have placed unnecessary concentration on environmental, social and governance ethics and ignored the need to address labour and human rights that are very important in improving the performance of organisations. They discuss building blocks that are important in ensuring organisations guidelines regarding standard practises that will ensure the rights of workers are respected (Bernstein and Greenwald 2009).
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They discovered that there are very few companies that have LHR guidelines; moreover, those with detailed standards or follow-up procedures were insignificant. According to them, only 28% had LHR policies while 15% of them admitted issuing an explicit LHR code of conduct to their publics. However, it was shocking to discover that less than 6% observed labour standards stipulated by the International Labour Organisation (Bernstein and Greenwald 2009). They admitted to be following and monitoring suppliers to comply with their policies and codes. Their discussion explains that majority of the companies located in Europe face public criticism because of how they manage LHR issues.
Joan Acker discovered that there is a close relationship between gender, capitalism and globalization. She argues that the introduction of gender considerations in globalisation processes will enable people to understand each other and how to protect, preserve and improve their environment. People will identify their roles in the reproduction process and transforming the course of globalisation (Acker 2004).
She claims that gender is a powerful resource for generating capital and it is in itself a factor of production. She confirms that globalisation has had various effects on men and women and there is the need for the corporate world to consider introducing and reinforcing gender-based leadership and management to improve the performance of their businesses.
Aaron Bernstein and Larry Beeferman show the extent of LHR use and abuse among global companies that claim to have effective policies to protect their workers. They conducted a research that benchmarked the companies listed on the S and P/ASX 200 on how they measured on the implementation of the international labour and human rights policies. They analysed 2,500 global companies and benchmarked their performance based on a 2009 study from the Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project of the Labour and Worklife programme at Harvard Law School (Bernstein and Beefman 2011).
They discovered that most American firms complied with the requirements set by the International Labour Organisation and their workers enjoy working and are more productive than those in other countries. In addition, they claim that Australia is also working hard to ensure majority of its businesses comply with the LHR regulations that will ensure the rights of workers are respected and protected.
This literature exposes serious challenges that employees face yet managers do not care about them. It presents gross human rights abuse perpetuated by the desire for organizations to make profits and ignore their workers. However, it has not painted an accurate picture about the efforts being taken by the International Labour Organization and local institutions in addressing the plight of workers. In addition, it creates gaps by failing to provide data to show the impacts of sustainable social responsibility on workers and the long term effects of violation of worker’s rights.
Acker, J 2004, Gender, Capitalism and Globalization. Web.
Bernstein, A and Beefman, L, 2011, S and P/ASX 200 and Global Company Policies by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors. Web.
Burchielli, A., Delaney, A., Tate, J. and Coventry, K 2009. The FairWear Campaign: An Ethical Network in the Australian Garment Industry, Wiley, New York.
Cernic, L. J 2008, Corporate Responsibility for Human Rights, Wiley, New York.
Greenworld, C. And Bernstein, A 2009, Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labour and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains, Harvard Law School, Harvard.
Council of Superannuation Investors, 2010, Supply-Chain Labour and Human Right, Harvard Business Review, Harvard.
Marquis, C., Soares, R. And Lee, M 2011, Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability, Harvard Business Review Press, Harvard.
Rodgers, L 2012. Human Rights Social Justice and Labour Laws, Foundation Press, New York.
Rubin de Celis, Clemente, G. I. and Balmaseda, E. V 2011, How a Gendered Approach to CSR Influences on Performance: The Case of Spanish Companies, Harvard Business Review, Harvard.
United Nations General Assembly, 2010, Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, McGraw-Hill, New York.