The terms child labor are used in reference to employment of children in situations which deny them their childhood and affects their ability to continue their schooling pursuits. It is socially, mentally, physically, and morally harmful or dangerous (Jacinta and Robinson, 2000). Many international organizations consider such practices exploitative, and there are many laws across the globe which has been crafted to curb child labor. In this paper I will use three principles derived from the Global Business Standards Codex to evaluate how child labor has been used in the global economy.
There are eight major principles in the Global Business Standards CODEX. These are reliability, dignity, fiduciary, fairness, property, citizenship, transparency, and responsiveness. In this paper I will use the principles of Dignity, Fiduciary and citizenship to discuss child labor in the world of business (Stephen and Budd, 2009). These three principles are essential for the ethical business activities and can be used in evaluating if global, national and local organizations are behaving in an appropriate and acceptable manner.
As pertains to fiduciary principle, it is the responsibility of each director or employee of a company to ensure that the interest of the other employees and stakeholders in the firm comes first. In addition, it is important for the company employees to act a manner that results in positive benefits to the firm. However, when illegal activities such as child labor take place within the watch of adults in the company, then it amounts to a failure on the side of employees. These are especially to those in personnel and human resource management departments (Basu and Van Hoang, 1998).
However, in some situations, employees do not to exercise their fiduciary duties due to the geographical locations of some of their suppliers. For instance, a London based coffee seller may not realize that the coffee is selling has been produced by engaging child labor in Ethiopia. In addition, employees have the fiduciary duty of ensuring that they do not have any self interests which may override those of the firm. Therefore, employees may decide to ignore instances of child labor especially when their hiring is not under their jurisdiction in order to safeguard the company profitability (Bass, 2004).
Further, because this principle calls for due diligence in carrying out their work, they are expected to remain loyal to their employer. Thus, even if they realize some negative occurrences in regard to child labor, their loyalty to the firm comes first. Agriculture has the highest cases of child labor across the globe. Because child labor is readily available in poor countries especially those in Africa and Asia, companies realize that following international regulations on child labor may disadvantage them. This is because child labor is both cheap and readily available (Bass, 2004). In other instances, due to poverty, children have to sell their labor so as to get basic needs such as food and even to subsidize their fees.
The dignity principle calls on all employees to respect the dignity of others. For the protection of people’s dignity in society, those involved should ensure that the health, safety, privacy, and other human rights are maintained. However, when employers engage children whom they pay peanuts, at the end of the day what happens is that they fail in their duty to respect the dignity of everyone (Stephen and Budd, 2009). The duty of fiduciary entails encouraging human development at the market place, within the organization and the society at large.
However, when the company managers employ underage children for profitability purposes or due to labor shortage especially in agricultural farms, human development at the societal level is affected (Jacinta and Robinson, 2000). This is because these children may miss out on education, which means that their future is doomed at a tender age.
In addition, dignity principle entails coming up with affirmative efforts to aid the people who require help in carrying out their personal pursuits. It also comes to the help of individuals who may be prone to unethical actions. Therefore, it is the responsibility of global organizations and their employees to ensure that they help the children who may be subjected to child labor.
The proactive employees and organizations can do this under the auspices of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). For instance, companies can stop doing business with their suppliers who engage in child labor, and then support the kids formerly employed by these suppliers as part of their CSR. This help can be in the form of tuition fees or free school lunch especially in poor African and Asian countries. This is important because poverty is a leading cause of child labor (Jacinta and Robinson, 2000). In this way, income of the child is essential for the survival of the child and the entire family.
On the part of citizenship, all employees ought to act responsibly as citizens within their communities. Therefore, if a United States based company has business interests say in the tobacco farms of Malawi, then both the organization and its employees should respect the laws of Malawi and the communities in which it has interests. Thus, it should follow the governments laid down laws pertaining to labor practices.
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The employees of such a company should also liaise with the educational and law enforcement officials in identifying parents who are subjecting their children to child labor. Further, such organizations should desist from using family poverty in the area under which they work to justify their oppressive work practices (Basu and Van Hoang, 1998).
Companies should ensure that the health of their adult employees is safeguarded to avoid subjecting them to early death, which ends up leaving their children orphans who have to fend for themselves or for their younger siblings. In addition, the company and its employees can contribute to the general wellbeing of the community by helping the communities through various community based programs and charitable organizations.
Through close cooperation with the community officials, company employees can also know which children may be endangered due to their family backgrounds which might be probably poor. Therefore, these employees can help such kids, and save them from child labor. However, when many global players rely upon the middlemen to get products that they may be interested in, at times they do not care about the labor practices under which their raw materials are produced.
In other cases, the employment of children is directly executed by the company. For instance, Nike admitted in 2001 that it had broken the labor laws by employing children in the third world countries. The admission stemmed from the reports that there were children as young as ten years who were engaged by the company to make clothing, shoes, and footballs in countries such as Cambodia and Pakistan (Boggan, 2001). This clearly shows that child labor is still prevalent in poor countries, and it ought to be curbed by use of all means possible.
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