Dr. Anita B. Pasmantier
6 September 2018
Nike and Sweatshop Labor
Many developing countries see the chance at earning some form of currency through employment at various sweatshops. Without the efforts of sweatshops, it seems to be as though these developing countries fail completely and their people would be begging for loose change. Companies choose to house their sweatshops in these low-income countries in order to charge lower wages so that they can pay their employees less money than they would if they were to build within the United States. With companies trying to become larger, they look at alternatives way to produce their products for cheaper. Need-less to say, without these efforts a lot of companies would seize to still exist if this was not possible. However, with working in sweatshops comes poor work conditions, low wages, and unprotected rights.
Companies, such as Nike, were criticized for hiring workers for extremely low pay along with unsatisfactory working conditions. The criticism that was brought upon this company is fair. On record, Nike has exceeded annual sales of $30 billion dollars where more than half of the sales come from outside of the United States. (Nike and Sweatshop Labor). For a company that solely depends on more than half of the sales from international countries, you would assume that they would want to create a safe work environment for those whom are working inside of these sweatshops. If you compare the minimum wage or average wage rate in the United States to those of whom are employed in these factories you would question how could they possibly make a living. Day in and day out these employees are not “sweat-free” because they are required to work twice as hard for less than half the pay an average American would make.
Although people criticize and frown upon companies who run their production through sweatshops, they benefit these low-income countries. Imagine all the companies who house their factories in these countries just abandoning them and recreating factories in the United States. If that were to happen then these workers would lose their jobs and therefore not be able to make some type of a living to provide what they can for their families. Take a look at the tag on a piece of clothing you are wearing or the sneaker that is on your foot. Chances are the tag is going to read from out of the country. As Bobby said it best, “for hundreds of millions of people, sweatshops offer the best hope to escape crippling poverty.” (Zitzmann 2017). People who live in the United States have a better chance at a better working condition than one whom lives in an undeveloped country. Working in a sweatshop isn’t a job people dream of but it is a necessarily job people will take in order to make an adequate living. In the end, a job such as this one helps to reduce poverty rather than continue to allow for the unemployment rate in these countries to rise.
However, when Nike was accused of their poor working conditions they chose to deny the sweatshop charges. This was a bad move on their part because a company who cannot take ownership for their own working environments leads to believe that they do not care for their employees. Imagine working 16 hours a day for a company where you’re not even sure if you’re capable of making it through a workday with no issues due to the unsafe working conditions. Nike executives could have avoided the sensitive charges brought upon them simply by reconsidering the vision they have for their business. Without the employees, they are unable to create the products needed in order to rush a product out onto the selling floor. Employees end up becoming a company’s biggest asset when you are housing your sweatshops overseas. If a company as big as Nike would have taken the initiative to give their oversea employees a better working facility that is better managed the criticism wouldn’t have come so hard on them.
If you take a look at the growth of the company of Nike, you will see they continue to exist as long as they continue to put out products that meet the demand of the consumers. Therefore, Nike needs to begin to see the benefits of making a positive work environment for their employees rather than just seeing it as a cheaper labor workforce with a low budgeted facility housed as a sweatshop. However, it almost seems as if the company was unaware of these working conditions until an elaborate inspection was completed with the company. These sweatshops overseas are clearly where the most of the money comes from so it is the responsibility of the company to improve the operations that are conducted overseas. “We would want to see an eventual end to long hours and child labor.” (Zitzmann 2017) With evolving working environments you can ensure that employees will live long lives within safer work environments. Along with that, when you create better work environments you save yourself money and time trying to train new employees how to work inside of these sweatshops. Think about it like this, would you rather train 5 employees to do the same job in one year or one employee who can last 5 years doing the same job?
Not only will a better working environment benefit the company as a whole but by also following corporate social responsibilities a company can grow immensely. It goes a little deeper than making investments in nonprofits to where you are helping the company and your employees. When you follow corporate social responsibilities you begin to improve your public image. With a dilemma like the Nike and Sweatshop Labor, a company like this wants to demonstrate their commitment to their people. Making investments hold a huge value in determining whether or not you will be working in the best interest of the company or not. If you ask someone in regards to why they applied for a position with a particular company, chances are it is because the company has a good public image. Along with that investors, don’t want to place their hard owned money in the hands of those who are not going to use it properly. The support Nike wants to receive from investors has to start from the support Nike gives their employees whether it’s those whom work overseas or in the United States. Think about a company like Volkswagen whom was made the world’s number one car maker because of its “supposedly environmentally friendly cars; meanwhile it was poisoning the planet” (Dans, 2015). When you pride yourself on lying to the world about the effectiveness of your vehicle you start to fail in corporate social responsibility. It is important that you are well aware of what goes on within your company. In other words, if Nike doesn’t comply with becoming more aware of the corporate social responsibility not only will it continue to harm them as a company but as well as the investors who are dedicated to their growth.
A company eventually gets built through its reputation and how they affect the people whether it’s the consumers or the employees. Every company has its own task force and team that make sure that the number of customers being drawn into the company continue to grow. Now a dishonest task force or company can be the reason why a company collapses and destroys the reputation of a company. Nike has the power to continue to rise in the market if they continue to make the efforts it took them when they originally began with a $500-dollar investment from two men who had nothing but a dream for such a company. In 1964 when the company was initially founded, the company probably would have never thought that they would eventually exceed 30 billion dollars in annual sales. All it takes is a dream and an investment to start up a company but in order to succeed in the market you have to continue to make the efforts you made to ensure your company would rise to the top.
Dans, Enrique. “Volkswagen And The Failure Of Corporate Social Responsibility.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Sept. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2015/09/27/volkswagen-and-the-failure-of-corporate-social-responsibility/#28d64fc64405.
Zitzmann, Bobby. “Op-Ed: Sweatshops Are Good.” The Eagle, 15 Feb. 2015, www.theeagleonline.com/article/2017/02/op-ed-sweatshops-are-good-bobby-zitzmann.