Social Responsibility – The Smokey Side at Walmart, Disney, & …

Poor Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rides again!

Various sources in the past report that U.S. companies lag behind other nations in reporting and hiring experts to manage accountability for triple bottom line CSR – responsibility for People, Planet, & Profits.  I’m hopeful the gap is narrowing, but the lagging accountability of U.S. companies reinforces stereotypes of greedy American companies and hedonistic U.S. consumers held by many globally. And here’s the rub. Actions count more that words and flowery reports.

Bangladesh police just arrested three factory supervisors  that saw a deadly fire that killed over 100 garment workers. The factory made products for Walmart, the Disney Company, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs’ clothing line and other US retailers. A tragedy at best and criminal corporate negligence at worst, turning back the covers discloses “sweat shop” practices that are alive and well–out of sight of the U.S. consumer.

Some are concerned about Walmart’s supposed strategy of “plausible deniability, ” keeping a layer of ignorance between themselves and potentially poor supplier practices like those resulting in the most recent fire.  Rumors are rampant that some 600 textile workers have died in these types of fires since 2006, leaving social responsibility implications at the smokey doorstep of Walmart, Disney and other retailers.

Turn back the charred sheets further to discover that although Walmart maintains high standards of safety and People, Planet, & Profit accountability inside the U.S. their 2012 Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report contains nothing I could find regarding offshore worker safety in the supply chain. Hmmmm, I bet there’s “gonna’ be some changes round Walmart.”  (see Safety page of Walmart report)

Walmart is not alone in their “alleged” negligence.  Disney social responsibility team also has a rainbow target on it’s back. Complete with mouse ears, the Disney Citizenship report DOES directly address fire safety among outsourced and offshore supplier manufactures:

“Manufacturers will provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, ensuring at a minimum …fire safety; and adequate lighting and ventilation…”

However, defending this pretty, award-winning Public Relations report as more than window dressing will require some quick action by Disney management, and maybe a talented tabletop tap dance by their PR team.

Remember PilmerPR‘s 1st Rule of Corporate Social Responsibility:

“First be good, then talk about being good.”

– John Pilmer

Report: Percent of large companies with CSR Report

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About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.
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