Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the process of integration of a business model into corporate self-regulation. It is a form of self-regulatory mechanism where the business ensures and monitors the compliance with the international and national norms, ethical standards and spirit of the law (Carroll 2015). The strategies of CSR support the companies to make a positive impact on the stakeholders and the environment including the communities, investors and the consumers. This report will be a CSR audit report of Brico Devices (BD) as there has been negative coverage in the media and press regarding the poor work practices of the company and recommendations will be provided for improving their practices and their public image.
The findings from the audit stated that the BD had developed poor working conditions, low pay rates, environmentally unsustainable practices and unsafe waste disposal methods. BD is involved in the manufacturing of mobile devices, laptops and computers and the negative coverage has grown the concerns of the public. It was found that the company is engaged in working with outdated and substandard equipment. In addition, the working conditions were also found to be substantially poor that the welding circuit board workers complained of developing skin rashes upon indirect or direct contact with the items of electronics that BD manufactures. It was also found that personal protective equipment was also not provided as the female workers were found to develop skin irritation if they accidentally happen to touch their skin at work. This was a complaint of the poor health and safety condition and the also it was evident the workers were not provided with the WHS training.
Long hours of work and repetitive movement made the work more exhausting as the workers received a keyboard every 7.4 seconds on the assembly line and the workers are required to snap up to seven keys into that place in that time. This had to be done using poor and malfunctioning equipment which further raised the health and safety issues. The professional life of the workers was further made miserable with low pay rates and excessive overtime at non-awarded rates. There was also no provision of bonus on overtime services as the workers were made to work about 72 hours a week with a meager base wage of 65 cents per hour. To add up to the miseries, there were fines for breaking rules of coming late even by a minute or putting personal belongings over the work desk.
The company was also alleged for adopting environmentally unsustainable practices and unsafe waste disposal methods. BD uses a lot of paper for testing the printability of its computers, laptops and mobile phones and also for printing its emails. The documents are not digitalized that also increases the use of paper even for the purpose of sending invoices. It has also been observed during the audit that the computers are not turned off while leaving the office. This unnecessary increases the electrical consumption while no productive activity is going on. Due to these practices, it was estimated that a laptop consumes more than 70% of energy during its manufacturing than it consumes during its entire life span (Graybill and Melhem 2013). This increased the carbon emissions that substantially led to the practices that are environmentally unsustainable.
Apart from this, BD has been found to follow unsafe waste disposal methods. Manufacturing of computers and mobiles require a considerable amount of resources and these contain toxics like mercury, barium, cadmium and lead. These wastes are deposited in landfills from where the toxics leach into the groundwater. Dangerous solvents are also deposited into these landfills which get imbibed into the nearby lakes and rivers causing serious health problems for the residents. Batteries are also used for the manufacturing purpose of the electronic goods which, when disposed carelessly, can lead to lead pollution that can seriously damage the environment and the health (Kang, Chen and Ogunseitan 2013). Some of these waste batteries are carried away after disposal for taking out the black powder present inside them to make cheap cosmetics, inks and dyes. This powder is highly poisonous and should never be used for such purposes and to prevent this, proper disposal method has to be followed where BD is lacking.
On a concluding note, it can be stated that a professional workplace environment can create more accountable, mature, respectful and competent employees who work together for achieving a common goal. BD should take initiatives to treat its employees with respect, fairness and dignity and care for the safeguarding of their health and the environment as well with safe disposal practices.
For this, recommendations can be provided for better management of the workplace environment based on the audit report to increase the workplace safety and health of employees, considering the environment. The outdated and substandard equipment has to be replaced or repaired at the earliest and the hazardous equipment should be protected with coverings and guards (Ajala 2012). The health and safety condition can be improved by providing personal protective equipment to the workers working on the hazardous equipment like welding circuit board. In addition, WHS or work health and safety training has to be provided to the employees for further precautions that have to be taken by the employees to prevent health hazards and reduce carbon emission. The employees should be provided with appropriate drinking water facilities and clean washrooms. Long hours of work have to be avoided with the provision of flexible break times to lessen the stress and improve the professional life of the employees (B?a?ewicz et al. 2013).
Further, the minimum wages have to be paid for the employees and the work hours have to be reasonable according to the ‘Fair Work Act 2009’. The use of paper has to be reduced and more environmentally sustainable practices have to be adopted with the digitalization of the work process like signatures and invoices (McCarthy 2016). Automated systems have to be installed in the computers to turn them off automatically after the employees log off. Safe disposal of waste is a must for electronic manufacturing companies as the solvents and toxics can be fatal on long-term exposure (Brunner and Rechberger 2015). For this, the ‘National Waste Policy’ and ‘Sustainable Waste Management Services’ of Australia has to be followed for the appropriate strategies and increasing the green computing practices.
Ajala, E.M., 2012. The influence of workplace environment on workers’ welfare, performance and productivity. In The African Symposium (Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 141-149).
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Brunner, P.H. and Rechberger, H., 2015. Waste to energy–key element for sustainable waste management. Waste Management, 37, pp.3-12.
Carroll, A.B., 2015. Corporate social responsibility. Organizational Dynamics, 44, pp.87-96.
Graybill, R. and Melhem, R. eds., 2013. Power aware computing. Springer Science & Business Media.
Kang, D.H.P., Chen, M. and Ogunseitan, O.A., 2013. Potential environmental and human health impacts of rechargeable lithium batteries in electronic waste. Environmental science & technology, 47(10), pp.5495-5503.
McCarthy, J., 2016. Good Health, Good Business: MaineGeneral Leads the Way in Workplace Wellness.