“Sustainability and social responsibility within the garment industry are more than desirable objectives,” says Summer Scholar and international business major Meghan McDonald ’17, “this industry is overloaded with issues and puzzled for solutions.”
In pursuit of those solutions, Meghan, who also has minors in Spanish and economics, has been spending the summer exploring issues of corporate social responsibility within clothing companies. She hopes to gain a better understanding the complexities of the industry and assess strategies for encouraging conscientious consumers.
On the consumer side, Meghan’s research is focused mainly on the need for increased awareness among millennials.
“I took interest in this topic after watching a documentary on the apparel industry,” says the scholar, who is a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania. “My questions continued to develop and I discussed them with my sister, Mary Catherine, who witnessed many issues firsthand when she lived in Southeast Asia teaching English.”
Meghan’s eagerness to learn more about these issues led her to apply for Summer Scholars.
“The Summer Scholars Program is a unique opportunity to explore an academic topic in depth with both independent freedom and guidance from a well-respected professor,” she says.
Meghan is working with João Neiva de Figueiredo, Ph.D., an associate professor of management at Saint Joseph’s who has a background in business economics and teaches courses on topics such as organizational sustainability and global business strategy.
“Along with his incredible knowledge, he brought passion to the subject and took the material further than just theory,” says Meghan. “Dr. Neiva shows the value of a global minded education, while building the necessary business skills and cultural awareness to work in an international setting.”
“Global sourcing in the apparel industry has been fraught with issues of fair treatment of labor,” says Neiva. “Meghan McDonald’s summer research project explores the need both for increased social sustainability awareness among young consumers and for corporate responsibility on the part of producing companies. In particular, she is investigating the evolution of company responses to labor conditions abroad since the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. This is an important inquiry because we hope findings will help deepen understanding of how consumer responses may encourage companies to address stakeholder needs and increase social responsibility.”
Meghan hopes their research can contribute to the call for better labor standards and more sustainable practices internationally.
She just returned from a semester abroad in Madrid, where, in addition to completing coursework, she was able to continue her weekly service participation. Back at home, Meghan is reengaged with her roles as an active ELS volunteer, a big sister with the Soith Eastern chapter of Big Brother Big Sister, a member of the SJU International Business Society and an intern for Profugo, an international development nonprofit in Ardmore.
— Colleen Sabatino ’11 (M.A.)
Office of University Communications
* * *
Summer Scholars Project Title: Corporate Social Responsibility: the Effects on Millennial Consumption
Mentor: João Neiva de Figueiredo, Ph.D., associate professor of management
High School: Academy of Notre Dame