Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network

Case Studies

CSR Failures

Case Study: Tazreen Fashions (Bangladesh)

With an annual revenue of nearly $500 billion, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, sourcing consumer goods from thousands of suppliers around the globe. By offering products to consumers at rock-bottom prices, Walmart has successfully positioned itself as the leading low-cost retailer.

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Case Study: Mexican Agriculture

In 2015, the Los Angeles Times published a searing exposé on the grinding poverty and rampant human rights abuses faced by workers in the Mexican tomato industry. Over the last decade, Mexican farm exports to the U.S. have tripled to nearly $8 billion dollars in response to the insatiable demand for cheap produce by supermarket and fast-food mega-brands.

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Case Study: Thai Seafood

Thailand’s $6.5 billion seafood export industry is the world’s fourth largest, supplying restaurants, supermarkets, and pet food brands worldwide.  Slavery and trafficking of fishers is endemic within the industry, aided and abetted by lax maritime labor laws and fueled by a seemingly insatiable global consumer demand for seafood.

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MSI Failures

Case Study: Ali Enterprises (Pakistan)

The Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan was the single deadliest factory fire in the history of modern garment production, killing 289 workers and injuring hundreds more. It was also the deadliest industrial accident in Pakistan’s history. The fire occurred just three weeks after the factory had been visited by inspectors from Social Accountability International (SAI), a multi stakeholder initiative (MSI) that specializes in certifying compliance with its own SA8000 standard.

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Case Study: Florida Agriculture

The failed grower certification program, Socially Accountable Farm Employers (SAFE), is an example of what happens when corporations, suppliers and other “stakeholders” build social responsibility schemes that deliberately exclude workers.  SAFE, now dissolved, illustrates how social responsibility programs without real worker participation and enforcement mechanisms backed by market power are not only incapable of identifying or redressing significant abuses, but are ultimately unable to achieve even their true (though unstated) goal of protecting brands and suppliers from reputational harm. 

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Case Study: Apple Inc. (China)

The electronics industry is one of the largest sectors in the global economy and some experts estimate that the sector employs more workers and create more revenue than any other industry in the world. The US consumer electronics industry alone is worth more than $211 billion, and technology and electronics companies top the list of Forbes’ ranking of the world’s most valuable brands.

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