Over the last year or so codes of conduct (or business responsibility) have been the focus of articles, books, and reports. The following list is not intended to represent a selection of the best (nor does it list everything), but is rather a mixture of different responses to the issue. We've listed material that ranges from corporate to critical. Many of the pieces are available online, but some may require the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Alcestis Abrera-Mangahas, Rene Ofreneo, Nelia Sancho, Von Hernandez, Corazon Soliman, and Levi Strauss & Co., Philippines Independent Evaluation Project for Levi Strauss & Co.'s Terms of Engagement, December 1999.
An assessment of Levi Strauss & Co. contractors in the Philippines by an independent third party. It reviews the company code of conduct and the terms of engagement which the company applies to every contractor. The five evaluators (authors) are all associated with PBSP (Philippine Business for Social Progress), and were not compensated financially so as to ensure independence.
Bama Athreya, 'Governing the ungovernable? Corporations and human rights', China Rights Forum, Spring 2000, pp. 36-39, 52.
Athreya argues that despite the fact that codes of conduct are controversial among labour activists, they and other voluntary approaches should be tried because there are few other options available.
Jim Bendell (ed.), Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, (Sheffield: Greenleaf, 2000).
With contributions from academia, business, and NGOs, this book is based on the idea that NGOs are both the agents of change and the answer to many of the tough issues facing business in the 21st century. Promotes the development of partnerships between business and NGOs. Read the chapter by Elkington and Fennell to see whether you or your organisation are 'sharks' or 'dolphins': angry and anti-business; or business friendly and thus intelligent!
Kenny Bruno and Joshua Karliner, Tangled Up In Blue: Corporate Partnerships at the United Nations, (TRAC-Transnational Resource & Action Center, September 2000).
This is a critique of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Global Compact. The authors believe that corporate influence at the UN is already too great.
Bureau of International Labor Affairs (US Department of Labor), The Apparel Industry and Codes of Conduct: A Solution to the International Child Labor Problem?
This detailed report focuses on the use of child labor in the production of apparel for the U.S. market, and reviews the extent to which U.S. apparel importers have established and are implementing codes of conduct or other business guidelines prohibiting the use of child labor in the production of the clothing they sell. It covers every aspect of monitoring, and includes a range of statistics relevant to the US apparel industry.
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, Human Rights Dialogue: 'Who Can Protect Workers' Rights? The Workplace Codes of Conduct Debates', Series 2 Number 4, Fall 2000.
This special issue on codes of conduct contains eight articles which present a range of views on the issue.
Deborah Doane, Corporate Spin - the troubled teenage years of social reporting, (New Economics Foundation, 2000).
Doane argues that social reporting is not yet doing its job and holding big companies to account. She calls for in-depth research about the links between social auditing and performance, simpler social audits - they can cost up to $1m - more stakeholder governance of corporations, for scrutiny by NGOs, government and journalists, and legal requirements for social reporting.
Georges Enderle and Glen Peters, A Strange Affair: The emerging relationship between NGOs and transnational corporations, May 1998.
Available online at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the key message is that transnational corporations urgently need to reassess their global responsibilities if they are to overcome the prevailing scepticism among NGOs. It argues that TNCs must reassess their global responsibilities as a matter of urgency. Contains a full list of NGOs surveyed.
Environics International, Millennium Poll on Corporate Social Responsibility.
In collaboration with the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum in London, Environics surveyed 25,000 people in 23 countries to see how they perceived the roles and responsibilities of global corporations. This document has all the graphs, highlights and percentages of what people think on the issue of corporate responsibility.
Dan Gallin, Trade Unions and NGOs: A necessary partnership for social development, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Civil Society and Social Movements Programme Paper Number 1, June 2000.
Gallin argues that NGOs and trade unions differ because they have specific agendas for the improvement of society, but despite this they need to cooperate. He examines the conditions unions and NGOs must meet if they want to strengthen their alliance. Of interest are his comments regarding corporate accountability, particularly his view that many unions need to resist the 'overly accommodating' approach by NGOs toward company codes of conduct.
Han Dongfang, 'Philanthropy no substitute for workers' right to associate', China Rights Forum, Spring 2000, pp. 34-35.
Exiled from China and now living in Hong Kong, Han argues that codes of conduct can only be effective if workers are in a position to form independent trade unions. While hoping that more businesses will adopt codes, he believes that ultimately workers must have the final say over their work conditions.
International Labour Organisation, Corporate Codes of Conduct.
A detailed examination of codes, including their background along with surveys on the number of companies who have one, the types of codes, and who participates in designing them.
Harold Kahn, Glen Peters, and Larry Ponemon, Reputation Assurance: The value of a good name.
PricewaterhouseCoopers conducts numerous social audits (for a critical view of their methods see Dara O'Rourke). The company's official Web site offers an insight into the way the company views its role.
Ans Kolk, Rob van Tulder and Carlijn Welters, 'International codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility: can transnational corporations regulate themselves', Transnational Corporations, vol. 8, no. 1, April 1999, pp. 143-178.
This article examines 132 codes of conduct drawn up by social interest groups, business support groups, international organisations, and firms. It assesses the codes and concludes that the likelihood of compliance depends on the contents and the interaction between various interested parties in its formulations and implementation.
Trini Leung, 'Labour rights without labour: not only impossible, but unacceptable', China Rights Forum, Spring 2000, pp. 30-33.
As the title suggest, Leung calls for all those involved in campaigns relating to codes of conduct - in particular NGOs and trade unions - to review their current strategies and insist that representation of local workers is put back into the centre of the picture.
Dara O'Rourke, Monitoring the Monitors: A critique of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) labour monitoring.
The first systematic public analysis of the monitoring methods employed by PwC to inspect factory labour practices around the world. This critical account argues PwC not only conducted very limited inspections of health and safety conditions, but failed to note key workplace health issues.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, 'Reputation Assurance - Global home'.
Monitoring codes of conduct has become big business, and PwC is one of the biggest in the game. See how a major player is positioning itself and developing a whole new language around the issue of codes, monitoring and social responsibility. The term 'reputation assurance' hints at what you might find here.
Michael A. Santoro, Profits and Principles, Global Capitalism and Human Rights in China, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000).
This book does not specifically address codes of conduct, but it does discuss many of the themes in which the issue is rooted. Santoro tries to take the middle road, arguing that transnational corporations and consumers must assume some responsibility for improving workers conditions in China.
Karl Schoenberger, Levi's Children: Coming to Terms with Human Rights in the Global Marketplace, (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000).
Schoenberger analyses codes of conduct, globalisation and human rights through a case study on Levi Srauss & Co. The book is a critical look at the decisions made by a large corporation and concludes that we need rigorous corporate transparency that honestly informs the public of business practices.
S. Prakash Sethi, 'Human rights and corporate sense', Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 October 2000, p. 37.
A call for corporations to act in a socially responsible manner.
S. Prakash Sethi, Paul F. McCleary, and Murray L. Weidenbaum, 'A case study of independent monitoring of US overseas production: Mattel independent monitoring council for global manufacturing principles (MIMCO) - Audit report 1999', Global Focus, 2000, vol. 12(1), pp. 137-152.
A scholarly account of the auditing process based on their work with Mattel.
S. Prakash Sethi, Paul F. McCleary, and Murray L. Weidenbaum, Mattel Independent Monitoring Council for Global Manufacturing Principles: Audit Report 1999, November 18, 1999.
The MIMCO Report assesses compliance with Mattel's code of conduct in factories producing 100 percent for the company in China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Peter Utting, Business Responsibility for Sustainable Development, Occasional Paper No. 2, January 2000.
Utting's paper calls for a greater role for international codes and frameworks to offset the ongoing proliferation of weak codes of conduct. He assesses claims by a growing number of corporations that their codes reflect policies and practices conducive to sustainable development.