Nike and Human Rights

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1. What ethical issues faced by MNCs in their treatment of foreign workers could bring allegations of misconduct in their operations?

Ethical issues may include the violation of fundamental human rights of ‘sweatshop’ workers such as freedom, speech and discrimination. The treatment of their workers could be deemed ‘unethical’ by media who construe this view to consumers. Such allegations can and will have damaging effects with Nike having been taken to court already in the past.

2. Would the use of third-party independent contractors insulate MNCs from being attacked? Would that practice offer MNCs a good defensive shield against charges of abuse of “their employees”?

Not necessarily, as Nike will be using labour which is just managed by another party. They would just be shifting the blame of abusing “their employees” to hiring someone else’s. The connection of the brand to any unethical labour will still be damaging regardless of whether they are directly related or not.

3. Do you think that statements by companies that describe good social and moral conduct in the treatment of their workers are part of the image those companies create and therefore are part of their advertising message? Do consumers judge companies and base their buying decision on their perceptions of corporate behaviour and values? Is the historic “made in” question (e.g., “Made in the USA”) now being replaced by a “made by” inquiry (e.g., “Made by Company X” or “Made for Company X by Company Y”)?

I think that good social and moral conduct is an inaugural part of the advertising and marketing message of any brand. In these times more consumers are moving to seek ethically sourced products (such as fair trade coffee), this includes worker conditions and perceptions the consumer may have of the company’s corporate activities. The ‘made in’ question is not necessarily being replaced by ‘made by’ it is more likely that both questions are beginning to be asked in conjunction...
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