“What kind of oil should we buy?” Luo Xiaohua shouts to her cousin from the cooking oil aisle in Yonghui Supermarket in the heart of Chongqing, a rising Chinese megacity. Luo, 50, is the quintessential Chinese shopper. She earns $3,250 a year and has an elementary education. She’s fiercely opinionated about her purchases.
The building collapse in Bangladesh has renewed the discussion about working conditions around the world. Verite’s CEO Dan Viederman told NEPR’s Susan Kaplan that many things contribute to the country’s problems, including corruption, not enough inspectors and a poor populace.
The software giant Apple is facing what some are calling a Nike moment, following recent press accounts that allege poor working conditions at Foxcomm, one of its suppliers in China. The American Shoemaker Nike, boasted a hip, pop-culture image before it was revealed that the company exploited its overseas workforce. The Amherst based non-profit group Verite tries to help American businesses improve working conditions at their factories. Dan Viederman is CEO of Verite. He says that companies first need to be willing to disclose their employment practices to the outside world. Viederman says Apple has been better than most at transparency.
Companies generally jump at the chance to point out any minuscule improvement in their environmental responsibility. The reason, of course, is that they think that each solar panel makes them look better to consumers. But all too often, brands neglect human rights and labor issues related to their supply chains—until something bad happens (case in point: the Hershey’s labor controversy). And when big companies are reeling from bad PR or want to preempt a messy situation, they go to Verité, a fair labor nonprofit that helps them become better corporate citizens.