Corporations, Human Rights, and Social Responsibility
O'Connell, J. (PI)
Large corporations now routinely spend millions of dollars to protect human rights and the environment. Shell Nigeria builds hospitals and schools in the Niger Delta. Nike employs hundreds of inspectors to improve conditions for the factory workers who produce its shoes across Asia and Latin America. Social media companies have faced scandals over user privacy, hate speech, and political manipulation. Other examples abound, across industries and around the globe. nnn"Don't be evil" (Google's one-time slogan) may be one motivation for these companies, but something more mundane is also at work: many companies believe they will do well, financially, if they do good, ethically. This course considers: nn-What does it mean for a company to "do good?" Should it care? nn-When does it serve a company's interest to take costly action to address human rights, labor, and environmental concerns? nn-What tactics have activists used to shift public opinion, media frames, and the law, and thereby change companies' incentives? nnnWe will learn through lectures, discussion, and occasional small group exercises. Several guest speakers with experience in business, advocacy, or in between will provide additional insights.