Business ethics week targets global workforce
October 28, 2008 4:18 PM
The third annual Business Ethics Week's central event took place at the SF State main campus yesterday with a focus on the global workforce and ethical challenges that the business world is currently facing and will continue to encounter in the future.
Deanna Robinson, GAP Inc.’s Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility, and Julia Williams, Starbucks’ CSR Program Manager Business Practice and Policy, led the discussion and explained many issues companies are facing on a multi-national level.
The common themes of both presentations were being socially responsible, making a difference, and influencing others.
“Companies have made our role a global village,” Robinson explained to a crowded room of mainly business students. “We need to embrace this role for people and the planet.”
Robinson went on to describe GAP Inc.’s effort to be socially responsible through an audit report that comes out every few years in addition to checking up on their 1,879 factories worldwide to make sure they meet standards of working conditions, freedom of association, environment and discrimination.
Starbucks has a similar endeavor called the Global Responsibility Team, which primarily focuses on ethical sourcing, environmental impact and community investment efforts.
Robinson as well as Williams also equally talked about their respective companys' commitment to “being a change agent and trying to influence others.”
Starbucks was the first company in America to provide comprehensive healthcare to all of its employees, including part-timers, Williams said
Meanwhile the GAP has had much success with its Product Red line, which has raised about $25 million since 2006 for the Global Fund fighting AIDS and HIV, Robinson said.
And with the current worldwide focus on the environment the two corporations have also become more committed to “reducing the environmental footprint,” Williams said, by making products out of recyclable materials as well as conserving energy and water.
“It’s all about assessing a situation and coming up with sustainable solutions,” Robinson said concluding the presentation.
Business Ethics Week was brought to life by the College of Business three years ago to “create a shared focus among faculty and students on the importance of business ethics, cooperate social responsibility and sustainable business,” according to their official Web site.
Once a year during this time period of five days, faculty members in the Business Division are encouraged to integrate material and speakers connecting to ethical dilemmas. Some professors even offer extra credit to their students for attending one or both events, Business Major Melanie Zoller, 28, said.
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