Friday, April 11, 2014

Do we have to choose between independent and socially responsible?

Something to think about over the weekend: how can small, usually independent companies afford the costs of CSR, the costs of certifications? Yet without these assurances, how do we as investors and consumers feel comfortable with a company's commitment to social responsibility?

An article in this week's Economist (April 5th) discusses this vexing issue.

"The Kenyan horticultural industry has provoked a predictable debate. Critics say it is folly to transport flowers, fruit and vegetables halfway across the world. Defenders retort that growing roses in Kenya, where it is hot and light all year round, produces fewer carbon-dioxide emissions than growing them in dank, dark Britain or the Netherlands. Critics complain that poor Kenyans are labouring long hours to produce salads for lazy Europeans. Defenders reply that horticulture is creating jobs in parts of Kenya where they are in short supply. But the most interesting thing about the industry is the way that it is shaking up ideological certainties. The West’s demand that companies be good citizens is confounding many on the left by consolidating more power in the hands of giant agribusinesses. At the same time it is confounding many on the right: far from choking enterprise, it is encouraging firms to become more productive and innovative."

Read the whole article here.
and click here for a link to a BBC video from 2012 about smaller flower growers in Kenya.

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