If you know who John G. Ruggie is (Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies, Harvard Law School, oh, and, Special Representative of UN Secretary General for Business and Human Rights), then you can imagine that even a short “Great article—congrats to the author” from him had me walking on air. What piece was he talking about? This: CSR Becomes Entrenched (February 2011, Lexpert).
Featuring Edward Waitzer, a partner with Stikeman Elliott LLP, Brian Burkett, a labour and employment partner with Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto, John Terry, a partner with Torys LLP in New York, Dr. Aaron Dhir, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, Sara Seck, a law professor at the University of Western Ontario, Donna Kennedy-Glass, Calgary business lawyer and oilpatch executive-cum-social activist and CSR advisor, Dina Aloi, VP-CSR for Goldcorp Inc., and Julius Grey, a labour-side human rights lawyer with Montreal boutique Roper Grey LLP. Also indirect cameos by Talisman VP CSR Reg Manhas, Auret van Heerden, head of the Fair Labor Organization, Martin Lipton, the “Lipton” in New York’s Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Marketa Evans, CSR Counsellor for the extractive sector, and, of course, John G. Ruggie himself.
“We’d take visitors to our sites, and they find out that we recycle 90 per cent of our water—and they’d be shocked,” says Aloi. “And we’d say, well, what did you think we were doing?”
Well, bad things. Because enough MNCs have done so in the past—if not actively then through omission or lack of vigilance over their partners, contractors, and members of the supply chain—and some are still doing so today. And, they’ve been slower than civil liberties activists in understanding the speed and extent with which, in an interconnected world, they can be punished for their sins of commission or omission…
If this is a topic of interest to you, you might want to take the time to watch Auret van Heerden’s TED talk from July 2010 on making global labour fair.