Students Get Exposed to Real World Business Ethics
-Casey McBride ’16
The Arrupe Center, in collaboration with student organization Net Impact, hosted a series of events that provided students, faculty, and the public an opportunity to reflect on the impact of business on society and the natural environment. Over the course of the year, the Arrupe Center hosted thirteen events, two of which were part of the new Business Leaders Series and are described elsewhere in this newsletter. The events helped students, in particular, become more knowledgeable about current ethical business practices in a range of industries while also engaging with the Arrupe Center and its mission.
On September 12, 2013, the founders of GreenStreet Coffee Roasters, brothers Thomas and Chris Molieri, described their desire for sustainable business practice and their passion for coffee roasting. Tom and Chris see sustainability efforts as integral to their day-to-day practice rather than as an afterthought. From the time they purchase coffee through the roasting process, they are focused on sustainability. They use compostable packaging for their products, avoid chemicals in their coffee roasting that are harmful to the environment, and buy fair trade coffee as much as possible to support the cause of ethical treatment of coffee farmers and workers. They try to get the best roast out of every type of coffee they supply without compromising quality in the name of sustainability.
On October 7, 2013, Justin Rosenberg, the CEO of Honeygrow, spoke about the challenges he faced when starting a business centered on his personal values of honest eating, growing local, and sustainability. His goal was to build a sustainable and reputable restaurant with high quality products and a remarkable customer experience. Rosenberg’s sustainable efforts show up in every aspect of his business, from the chairs in his restaurants to the daily operations of his business. He stresses that in order for a company to function, employees need to lead by example, maintain their integrity, and stand up for what they believe in. Regardless of the struggle he endured with the startup, Rosenberg’s passion has helped him create a successful, thriving business in less than two years.
Fair Trade and Workers’ Rights
Alta Gracia’s Workers’ Tour came to Saint Joseph’s on October 24, 2013, in order to discuss how living wage apparel changes lives. A representative from Solidarity Ignite talked about the connection between college students and the workers who sew their university apparel. The goal of Solidarity Ignite and Alta Gracia is to create a system of production in the garment industry where there are more dignified jobs. Solidarity Ignite brings together labor and its consumers, or in Alta Gracia’s case, workers and students, in order to create a factory for the workers that upholds human rights and ends sweatshop abuse. The Workers’ Rights Consortium, which attempts to assure that university logo apparel is made under humane conditions, has designated the Alta Gracia’s factory as a preferred supplier of college apparel. Alta Gracia products appear in the Saint Joseph’s University Bookstore. Two workers from the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic talked with students about the difference between their jobs and the jobs in other Dominican apparel factories. These workers are paid a living wage, which is more than three times the legal minimum wage for apparel workers in the Dominican Republic. They also have a democratic workers union and top-notch health and safety conditions. Through the efforts of Workers Rights Consortium and Solidarity Ignite, students and workers have collaborated to produce a better work-life for scores of garment workers in the Dominican Republic.
On March 20, 2014, Charles Kernaghan, the Director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, spoke to the Saint Joseph’s community. Kernaghan posed the question, “If labels can be protected by laws backed up by sanctions, why is it that human beings making these garments cannot have similar legal protections?” In a short video shown at the beginning of his talk, Kernaghan compares the current sweatshop situation abroad to the incident that occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25, 1911, which was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York. 146 people lost their lives in that tragedy, causing the momentum that created the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage laws, and time-and-a-half laws, as well as the right for workers to organize. And, by 1938 there were virtually no sweatshops in the United States. Incidents like that at the Traingle Factory are still occurring in the global apparel market, as the recent Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh illustrate. The incident that occurred at the Triangle Factory over 100 years ago is still going on in today’s global economy. Kernaghan argued that we need to hold global corporations accountable to strict safety standards and to ban the import of goods produced by sweatshops or child labor. He finished by saying that we need to do in the global economy what we did in our domestic economy and that this is the most important social movement of our generation.
On February 4th, 2014, the Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics and Net Impact welcomed Dave Stangis, Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility at The Campbell Soup Company and President of the Campbell Soup Foundation, to Saint Joseph’s University. Stangis designs the sustainability strategies that have allowed Campbell’s to be named one of the world’s most ethical companies. In his presentation, Stangis described the strategic objectives that The Campbell Soup Company has set for corporate social responsibility and sustainability. He stated that every company has a plan when it comes to corporate social responsibility, but Campbell’s wanted to break out and develop a unique plan that permeated all aspects of the company. Campbell’s goal, according to Stangis, is to deliver meaningful, measureable, and differentiated business, brand, and societal value by optimizing the power of the organization’s people, culture, core competencies, and innovation.
R World Energy Solutions came to speak at Saint Joseph’s on April 9, 2014 about the more sustainable energy management solutions they offer organizations. They provide the latest technologies and forward-thinking services that reduce energy and water consumption, in order to minimize a company’s carbon footprint, and increase its competitiveness while simultaneously providing a return on investment. They work closely with their clients to help them understand where and how much energy is consumed within their organization and how different energy solutions can reduce their impact on the environment and provide long-term cost savings. The R World Energy team showcased some of their most modern LED lights to the audience. These lights possess bulbs ranging from 60-135 watts and can replace the 750-1,000 watt bulbs that are in use today, leading to cost savings for the company and reduced energy usage and impact on the environment.
From a variety of industries, these speakers and their organizations are taking meaningful steps to assure positive impacts for greater social and environmental good.