In today's economy, companies work harder than ever to attract and retain customers. There are lots of ways to do that, such as provide a bigger and more efficient marketing campaign, launch new and better products which meet exactly needs of customers in terms of their age, habits, interests or careers, spend more on advertising and so on. However, when the companies start their international business in other countries and continents, there is an issue must be concerned if they want sustainable and successful operations, it is called corporate social responsibility. That is the reason why corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been paid a lot of attention to more and more. A variety of stakeholders are asking companies to be accountable, not only for their economic performance, but also for the social and ecological performance of their entire supply chain, and at the same time, more companies than ever before are communicating about their efforts to integrate CSR into all aspects of their business.
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Corporate social responsibility has been around for many years in the sense that there have always been companies that were very concerned about ethical practices. The idea of corporate social responsibility really became popular in the early 1970s and changes in business can be seen clearly in the beginning of the 1990s when, for example, McDonald's has adopted the European Union's restrictions on the use of growth-promoting antibiotics for its suppliers of chicken and beef in the United States or Starbucks and many other coffee distributors and retailers sells coffee with Fair Trade label, which certifies that coffee producers are paid above world market prices for their products.
CSR then really jumped on top of the global agenda when Shell was boycotted for the way it dealt with the disposal of the Brent Spar. After this boycott nearly bankrupted Shell, organizations all around the world started to take notice and developed their plans for public relations disasters like this. Then it leads to several major problems concerning corporate social responsibility: is this real ethics or just marketing of big multinational companies? How do stakeholders acknowledge CSR properly? Do they really change their actions or just say more than do? Which factors or organizations affect companies as well as stakeholders?
This paper will focus on the role of international multilateral organization and media in changing attitudes of stakeholders towards corporate social responsibility. It defines the terms "international multilateral organization" as well as "stakeholders", and then states those organizations' role in changing stakeholders' attitudes towards CSR. The main point is to find out what are the activities the multilateral organizations and media have done and should do in future to change the way stakeholders think about corporation social responsibility, and how important they are in the way of stakeholders' changing attitudes towards CSR.
INTERNATIONAL MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS
International multilateral organization is the one refers to multiple countries working in concert on a given issue that relate to all of the countries in the organization. There are quite lots of such organizations working in terms of different issues, for instant:
United Nations: was founded in 1945 to help stabilise international relations and give peace a more assured foundation. Moreover, its ambition is also to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace.
International Labour Organization (ILO) is an organization which dedicated to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain proper and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues (ILO homepage).
World Trade Organization (WTO): came into being in 1995 with 153 members till now (Members and Observers- WTO official site), it is the only international organization dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
World Health Organization (WHO) came into force on 7 April 1948. It is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. (WHO official website)
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Greenpeace: a public interest group founded in 1971 that acts to change attitudes and behaviour to protect and preserve the environment and to promote peace. (Greenpeace main page)
There are still quite lots of international multilateral organizations who are striving to improve quality of our lives as well as protect the community, the environment and achieve sustainable business success, such as : International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and so on.
The dictionary defines media as all the means of communication, as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and nowadays, Internet, which provide the public with news, entertainment, advertisements, documentary and so on. Essentially, that means almost anything can be media as long as it is watched or listened.
In the modern life nowadays, media has become a crucial part in most of people daily life. There are an estimated 290 million television viewers just only in U.S and according to a study conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, nearly 25 percent of television viewers in U.S between the ages of 15 and 25 watch television 7 days a week to receive their news and information, this percentage to 46 percent for viewers aged 26 and older. The number of internet users worldwide is even larger and might raise rapidly due to the speedy increasing high-bandwidth content and applications on the internet and available access to mobile networks to over 90 per cent of the global population now. It will exceed the 2 billion users in 2010 according to the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) latest statistics (as-seen-below)
Thanks to the invention of newspapers in the early 17th century, the voice radio came in 1921, then the birth of first television in lately 1920s and the fast growth of Internet just more than 20 years in late 20th century, people now can know everything in the whole world with just a click on computer or their mobile, sit in front of a television or buy a newspaper in their way to work in the morning. All those kinds of media seem to bring people closer to each others and also closer to whatever they might be interested in. However, people at the same time, comes close to put their lives dependent completely on media, what they hear, what they see, what they learn, what they discuss and everything else all come from different types of media. Although it has negative aspect, it still cannot be denied that media plays important role in the way people learn and be aware of the world, react to subjects they might be interested in as well as assisting civil society organizations or multilateral organizations or other working-on-issues organizations to make people realize and change their minds, their attitudes and their actions towards corporation social responsibility.
There are variety of definitions make it difficult to get a general agree upon idea of what a stakeholder really is but Freeman's ( 1984 : 46 ) original definition is maybe the most broadly used : " A stakeholder in an organization is any group or individual who can affect or be affected by, the achievement of the organization's objectives". However, when it comes to business industry of 21st century when CSR is much more related to a corporation operation progress, when stakeholder does concern not only their benefits brought by companies but also their rights and responsibilities with their investment, their decisions on buying, selling and the impact of their actions towards society, the environment and the future of their children, then it needs a little bit more detailed definition of a stakeholder: "A stakeholder of a corporation is an individual or a group which either is harmed or benefits from the corporation or whose rights can be violated and have to be respected by the corporation" ( Business Ethics, pp 58).
Figure 1: Relationship between Corporation and Stakeholders
Figure1 shows the relationship between corporation and stakeholders. Stakeholders are composed many individuals, groups, and even organizations. The government is one of stakeholders for corporation, and each shareholder is one of stakeholders, too. Besides, customers, employees, and members of community, in which the company operates its business are also stakeholders. Stakeholders claim to companies in various ways. For example, if one customer is injured in the product trouble or harmed by product quality, he claims for his damage to the company making that product. Other customer demands too low a price of the company. Other customers want companies to sell more serviceable goods in a lower price. Companies need respond their claim to survive in the society.
ROLE OF MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS AND MEDIA IN CHANGING STAKEHOLDERS' ATTITUDES TOWARDS CORPORATION SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
1. MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS' PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS:
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There are lots of international multilateral organizations in the whole world with many different programs or campaigns provided in order to follow their missions and ambition to solve variety of matters, such as: air pollution, human rights violation, child labour used in developing countries, fight against HIV/AIDS, global warming, animal testing, end the nuclear age and so on. One of the issues most paid attention in the early of the third millennium is sustainable business or called green business, which has no negative impact on environment, community and economy as well. Sustainable business usually has advanced environmental and human rights policy and matches these following criteria (Cooney,S):
ï‚· It incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions.
ï‚· It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replaces demand for non-green products and services
ï‚· It is greener than traditional competition
ï‚· It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations
In order to complete all of the above conditions, companies need to work and follow strictly a lot of policies come from not only local or national government but also international organization, for example: Ethical trading initiative base code of workplace standard of ILO ( International Labour Organization ), European Union's Code of Conduct on Energy from European Union, Pollution Prevention Code of Chemical Manufacturers' Association and so on. Obviously it costs firms not a small amount of money to equip manufactory with proper system and machine to follow all such codes and laws on waste disposal or recycle used products, or even pay employees with adequate salary and provide good working conditions cost much, and not every corporation willing to do that. That is the reason why multilateral organizations must strive to implement their campaigns, programs into real life, hold conferences or classes to change perception of stakeholders and management of corporation, it helps changing operation process efficiently from internal aspects together with external pressure.
2. HOW MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS AND MEDIA WORK AND THEIR ACHIEVMENTS
Some good campaigns of the multilateral organizations could be told, for example, Greenpeace began a campaign to stop Europe's trade in illegal timber 10 years ago and over a decade, Greenpeace activists willing to put their lives and liberty on the line to expose and illegal logging in the Amazon, Africa, Russia, and Southeast Asia - by blockading ports, halting wood shipments and going undercover to investigate criminal logging (Greenpeace website). Finally, in July 2010, Greenpeace could celebrate their first victory on this issue when Europe made a law that bans illegal timber from entering Europe. Although it is still not a perfect law, it is a remarkable result returns to tireless effort of Greenpeace's activists. They has succeeded in pressuring government to take effective action to tackle illegal logging and protect our forests as well as human rights since illegal logging enhanced to deforestation and climate change, threatened species with extinction, usually was blood timber - linked to organized crime and to violent civil wars. Through hard ten years doing the campaign, media has contributed quite well to this victory since Greenpeace used their website as a news chanel to post necessary information, related activities, created a 'Forest Love' web video inspires more than 130,000 supporters to write to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, required him to 'show a little love' to the planet's forests. They also made videos with appearance of Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard coming to the Democratic Republic of Congo to witness the destruction caused by illegal logging and spread it on Youtube in order to bring their message to the whole world more convincingly.
Another organization has long history of improving standard of working conditions and human life is International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO brings together governments, employers and employees of its 175 member states in common action to raise social protection and conditions of life and work throughout the world. It launched an International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 1992, which began with six participating countries and a single donor government and till now has expanded to operate in 75 countries funded by 26 donors. On the February 2003, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed to wave a "Red Card to Child Labour" in order to increase global awareness about child labour and points out its causes in the production of sporting goods and in other industries and sectors. It is considered a smart campaign of ILO when uniting the world of sport and the world of work in an unprecedented global campaign. Football is the most popular sport in the world, it has an enormous appeal especially to young people, social and even political significance and, not least, its importance for the media together with image of FIFA, one of the world's largest sporting organizations with 204 member associations, will attract more attention from media which means more attention from society, especially from the huge amount number of football fans throughout the world, raise the opportunity of good result as expected. None of using child labour is the final objective that needs very long time and be through difficult barriers but at least, with this interesting campaign, ILO can go one more step further into community's perception.
In some cases media seems to work alone by themselves, for instant the melamine milk scandal in China exploded in the middle September 2008. A journalist of Southern Weekend wrote an investigative report in late July for publication about infants who had fallen ill after consuming milk powder from Sanlu Group but this new was delayed public since some rumors say that it was made to avoid pursuing the matter until the Olympics in Beijing were over. If the journalist was not willing to take risk to spread this new, it might be more infants killed and children affected by the exotic powder milk and irresponsible and money-concerned leaders of a big corporation.
Multilateral organizations and media usually work together in their efforts of making impact on people mind and changing their perception towards corporate social responsibility. Media has its own wide and deep affection on people daily lives, it also changed the way we communicate and perceive the world around us. Multilateral organizations have their strong believes, knowledge and patience to fight tirelessly in order to protect their mission and objectives but less impact on people mind, that is the reason why media and those organizations became good partners more and more nowadays. If there is no international multilateral organizations or media does not concern much about CSR, people around the world will not have enough information and right perception of the importance of CSR, and without it, our rapid raising economy will destroy our planet in terms of environmental pollution in a short future as well as ruin all our codes of conduct due to a blind desire for profitability and willing to violate human rights.
Now sweet caught in China milk scandal, Retrieved in7th November 2010 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/now-sweets-caught-in-china-milk-scandal-943719.html
Andrew Crane, Dirk Matten (2006), Definition of stakeholder, Business Ethics 2nd edition
Cooney, S. (2009) "Build A Green Small Business. Profitable ways to become an ecopreneur."
About WHO, Retrieved in 31st October 2010 from http://www.who.int/about/en/
Mission and Objective of ILO, Retrieved 31st October 2010 from http://www.ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Mission_and_objectives/lang--en/index.htm
Members and Observers, Retrieved in 31st October 2010 from http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm
Victory after ten years, Retrieved 2nd November 2010 from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/victories/
Internet users by level of development statistic, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement