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Nike: The Sweatshop Debate Essay

1825 words - 7 pages

Should Nike be held responsible for working conditions in foreign factories that it does not own but where subcontractors make products for Nike?
In many ways, it seems obvious to me that Nike should be held responsible for working conditions in foreign companies where products for Nike are made. In my opinion a company is not only responsible for itsʼ own employees but also for the employees that produce for them even though theyʼre not in their own company. I think that every part of the supply chain is partially responsible for the entire supply chain. As Nike is the
most visible and wealthiest part of the supply chain, it carries the biggest responsibility. In this way, I oppose Friedmansʼ view that the only social responsibility a company has is to increase itsʼ profits.

The utalitarian approach dictates that a business decision (f.e. to subcontract to a foreign company) should only have more good consequences than bad ones to be executed. I disagree on this view. In my opinion the company should look at the big picture and make sure that every one benefits from the decision. This means I am agreeing with the difference principle which states that inequalites between employees can be justified
if at least the least-advantaged benefits.

Another approach I can relate to is the Kantian approach. People are not machines and should not be treated as such. This means Nike should treat every one who is involved with its products as a human being. Therefore the company should give everybody at least the wage they require to have a normal, good life. They should also give them working condititions work living in. It is however wrong to give them full responsibility. The subcontractor has a big deal of the responsibility as well as they are the actual employers. It should certainly be their prior concern that their employers have a
good wage and working conditions. If Nike would use all its power to try to give better work conditions and wages and in the end the companies donʼt live up to that, Nike should not be held that responsible although I would strongly suggest to end the contract.
Conclusively Nike should be held responsible for its subcontractors. They are not completely responsible for this but they should be aware of it and as a influencial company they should impose what they call basic rights to their subcontractors and make sure that their rules are followed.

What labor standards regarding safety, working conditions, overtime, and the like, should
Nike hold foreign factories to: those prevailing in that country or those prevailing in the United States?
If you would look at the theory of cultural relativism, it states that a company should adopt the ethics of the
country it is subcontracting to. This statement contains very little truth according to most people, including
me. I think Nike should not try to carry over all of its home country values but it should at least acknowledge
the basic human rights that...

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