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Overview of Global Fashion Industry

Discuss about the Business Ethics for Blood, Sweat and T-shirts.

The global businesses offer growth and considerable income to countries that serve the products. The products from one country travel to the other and create frenzy and incur huge profits (Peng, 2016). The businesses around the world are shaping themselves in this way that the goods are imported from countries that provide cheap labor and hence low production cost. The documentary that is reviewed in this report is “Blood, Sweat and T-shirts”. The report aims to explore the unethical practices that are prevalent in the fashion industry of India and the derogatory attitude towards the workers will be analyzed. The report will also focus on the relation between the practices that have been shown in the documentary and Kant’s ethical theories.

The documentary is directed by Edward Levan and it showcases six spoiled English youth who come to the country of India and experience the various issues that are related to the luxury goods that are produced in the factories of India and sold in the high streets overseas. The Six young people explore the fashion industry that is prevalent in the country of India. In the high streets of U.K there are many stores that sell beautiful and fashionable clothes at a relatively low price (Bly, Gwozdz & Reisch, 2015). People are amazed with the quality of these clothes and the low price creates frenzy for them in the high streets. The fashion quotients of the dresses are high and people shop in huge amounts from such places in the overseas market as they provide an unbeatable deal. The documentary focuses on the conditions in which such clothes are made in India. The factories that manufacture the clothes are taken into focus in this documentary. The six youngsters are made to work in such factories so that they get an understanding of the working conditions that are prevalent in the factories that produce some of their favorite fashionable garments. The six of them are made to work under the extreme conditions in which the Indian people work in those factories. The documentary showcases the true situation in the manufacturing units of the country and the factories that produce cheap clothes for the overseas market. The Indian factories are very much ignorant towards the wellness of the workers and that has been well portrayed in the documentary. Right from the living conditions to the working condition, everything has been well covered in the documentary by the makers (Blood Sweat and T Shirts, 2017). The nature of a documentary has to be truthful and realistic and hence Blood, Sweat and T-shirt stayed true to its genre. The cotton fields, the manufacturing units and the living places have been so well focused in the documentary that the audience can feel the pain of the situation in India. The documentary constantly shows the ignorant aspect of the owners towards the workers and the lack of CSR in such factories.

Blood, Sweat and T-shirts Documentary

Narrow view of CSR refers to the practice of neglecting CSR related practices by an organization in order to maximize profits. The factories that are shown in the documentary are followers of the narrow view of CSR. The prime motives for such organizations are to build on their profits and increase their earning and in the mean if some positive aspect is added to the society then that itself is a CSR (Schwartz, 2017). No additional effort or fund is allocated by the company to ensure that CSR is practiced. The owners of these businesses put forward an argument that government is the authority for doing all the good work and dealing with the social issues (Knudsen, Moon & Slager, 2015). If the factories and companies engage into social work then the focus from money making will move and it will lead to loss for the company. The approaches of the factories that are shown in the documentary are to make the workers work hardest so that the quantity of production goes up. The documentary shows various practices that are inhuman in nature and they are-

  • Long working hours- The working hours in the Indian factories are long enough to drain a person to the maximum extent. The working hours start from as early as 6 am in the morning and are extending till 8 or 9 pm in the night. There is no time left for a worker to make sure some personal and family time is spent after a day’s hectic work (Bannai & Tamakoshi, 2014). The work duration is always high so that the people working can keep working and the production quantity is increased in return. Higher amount of production means a higher level of profit to be earned. The workers are exploited on a daily basis and are pushed to the limits.
  • Unsafe working condition- The working conditions are highly unsafe and the situation at work is unfavorable for the workers. The factory does not have safe work conditions and the machinery that is used for the process is not safe and can cause serious accident. The factories on a daily basis have cases where the labors are injured and yet no steps are taken to make sure that the safety is ensured in the workplace (Abrey & Smallwood, 2014). The wirings and electrical units that are used in the factories are age old and can anytime lead to fire accidents that can kill many lives. However it is seen that such concerns do not worry the workers and they only focus on making profits from the factory and the labors.
  • Child labor/ lack of education- The age of the workers in factory are varied and it is seen that even children below 18 years are working in various units of factories. The children who work at such an age are the worst hit due to such practices that are prevalent in the business world. They are exploited and are made to work hard, such practices lead to their mental and physical growth to be restricted (Hindman & Hindman, 2014). The people who are working in the cotton cloth factories are not even educated and they do not have the access to any kind of education. Education for them is a far dream that can never be achieved. They cannot afford education as they are often underpaid and do not have access to sources of education around them.

The broader view of CSR says that it is essential for the organizations to make sure that they follow certain set of CSR steps that contribute positively to the society. The broader view of the CSR is ethical and it is seen that the major organizations do follow the broader view. The factories that are shown in the documentary follow the narrow view of CSR. The broader views makes the organizations realize that the society in which they are present deserves something from them that shall allow them to grow positively. The factories and organizations these days have huge power with them and hence they need to fulfill the responsibility which they have towards the society. The broader view suggests that making profits should not be the only motive for the companies in this modern era and they should involve themselves in the activities that are taken up for the betterment of the society (Costa, Lages & Hortinha, 2015). The broader view makes sure that the people working in an organization are happy and this will in return encourage them to work hard. The hard work of the employees shall directly reflect in the profits that are made by the company over a period of time. It is always ethical to practice CSR because it is the responsibility of the audience to make sure that the society is progressing along with them or else the distribution of progress shall become unequal in the society.

Narrow View and Broader View of CSR in Indian Factories

The people who are engaged in the working process of the factories that are shown in the country face many ethical obligations at work. The managers and workers of the factories do not follow most of the ethics that are imposed on them morally. The ethics of long working hours and child labor is constantly broken by the owners and managers of the factories that are shown in the documentary. The workers are given a target to achieve at the end of each day and the target is huge which leads to stress. The factories do not take responsibility for the food that is consumed by the people working in the factory. The people who work are most often exposed to poor quality of food and this leads to various hazardous health issues in the workers. The payment structure is extremely poor for the factories and the owners must make sure that payment is made to them in accordance to the amount of work that they do in the factory.

Kant in his Deontology and under the segment of categorical imperative stated that there are certain methods of that are to be followed equally around the world. The work pattern has to be in common good of everyone who is attached to the work process and it should be formulated in a way that it benefits everyone. It has to be made sure that when an action is taken it is according to a universal maxim or law (Reath, 2013). The factories that are shown in the documentary do not follow this universal maxim and they do not abide by any universally accepted law or system. This unethical entirely and hence it should be seen that they should reframe their system accordingly and make sure that the universal laws are followed in their system.

Every factory and organization that is shown in the documentary must adhere to the goodwill concept of Kant. They should make sure that they are working in accordance to certain moral responsibilities that they have towards the community and the workforce (Reath, 2013). The behavior has to be responsible and morally correct so that the workforce does not feel discriminated. Every action must be well reasoned and then only it will lead to better work environment for the people in Indian factories.  

The way the labor force is treated in such factories in India is immoral and they are being treated as mere means to achieve the ultimate motive of the companies. Kant argues that the people should not be treated in this way and importance should be given to the individual beings. Each worker should be treated as an objective rather than means to achieve an objective (Kant, 2017). The owners of the cotton product factories must make sure that the workers are well taken care of because if they are not taken care of then their performances shall dip and the results of the company shall degrade.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is seen that the plight of the workers in a country like India needs serious improvement. The documentary shows that how badly the people are treated in their workplace and their living conditions too are so unfavorable for a healthy existence. The clothes that are sold at such a cheap at the high streets of the overseas markets are produced in such condition leaves the audience in shock. The factories need to make sure that the CSR activities are taken care of and the workers are treated in a more humane way than they are treated now. The payments too are very poor for the workers and the documentary hence justifies its name as it rightly reflects that blood and sweat of the workers go into making the t-shirts which are the luxury fashion statements for the people in the overseas market.

Reference

Abrey, M., & Smallwood, J. J. (2014). The effects of unsatisfactory working conditions on productivity in the construction industry. Procedia Engineering, 85, 3-9. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705814018888/pdf?md5=5d998363ec3034f8e658995935191407&pid=1-s2.0-S1877705814018888-main.pdf&_valck=1

Bannai, A., & Tamakoshi, A. (2014). The association between long working hours and health: a systematic review of epidemiological evidence. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 5-18. Retrieved from: https://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3388&fullText=1

Blood Sweat and T Shirts (2017) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSy8SmHBPis&t=224s [Accessed on: 14-4-2018]

Bly, S., Gwozdz, W., & Reisch, L. A. (2015). Exit from the high street: an exploratory study of sustainable fashion consumption pioneers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 39(2), 125-135. Retrieved from: https://scorai.org/wp-content/uploads/Bly-et-al.-finaljccsubmission.pdf

Costa, C., Lages, L. F., & Hortinha, P. (2015). The bright and dark side of CSR in export markets: Its impact on innovation and performance. International Business Review, 24(5), 749-757. Retrieved from: https://prof.fe.unl.pt/~lf/papers/Costa_Lages_Hortinha_IBR2015.pdf

Hindman, H. D., & Hindman, H. (2014). The world of child labor: An historical and regional survey. Routledge. ISBN 9781317453864

Kant, I. (2017). Kant: The metaphysics of morals. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1107086396, 9781107086395

Knudsen, J. S., Moon, J., & Slager, R. (2015). Government policies for corporate social responsibility in Europe: A comparative analysis of institutionalisation. Policy & Politics, 43(1), 81-99. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jette_Steen_Knudsen/publication/272403354_Government_policies_for_corporate_social_responsibility_in_Europe_A_comparative_analysis_of_institutionalisation/links/56b08f2408ae8e37214fca6d/Government-policies-for-corporate-social-responsibility-in-Europe-A-comparative-analysis-of-institutionalisation.pdf

Peng, M. W. (2016). Global business. Cengage learning. ISBN 1305890302, 9781305890305

Reath, A. (2013). Kant’s Moral Philosophy. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics, 443. ISBN 0191655767, 9780191655760

Schwartz, M. S. (2017). Corporate social responsibility. Routledge. ISBN 9781351948418

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