Corporate social responsibility can be described in several ways in which businesses and organisations align social, ethical, legal and philanthropic obligations within their business ventures. Corporate Social Responsibility is the understanding held by many persons that businesses and organisations have ethical and social responsibilities to society, in the area or place in which they have their business ventures set up, that goes beyond their economic commitment to their interested parties.
The company should ensure that whatever they may be doing is not affecting the society negatively. (Owain Smolović -Jones, 2017, Pg.17) The businesses should always try to meet their targets before attempting to start any other business activities. The profit making of the company should always be done through legal methods and always to go with predefined ethics of business which leads in a sustainable business model with total benefits to society.
Philip Morris International, one of the leading companies in the tobacco business is trying to work on a long-term sustainable model of business, in a worldwide competitive scenario. The company would like to follow all the defined laws of the United States of America. Using the CSR pyramid, philanthropic responsibilities contributes improvement to the overall quality of life. Ethical responsibilities are an obligation to do what is right, just and fair. Legal responsibilities are society’s codification of right and wrong and economic responsibilities is the foundation in which all others rest. (Owain Smolović -Jones, 2017, Pg.23)
Based on findings in the case study I have identified the corporate social responsibilities of Philip Morris International. The company has highlighted from the outset, the working conditions, the environment, the standard of living within the communities, the economic value of the business globally and their employees. Phillip Morris International, the company has often been criticized for purchasing tobacco harvested using child labour.
When dealing with CSR issues related to the supply chain, the use of child or forced labour is often frowned upon by many around the world. Although it is classed as illegal for a child to purchase cigarettes, it is legal for them to work in the tobacco fields, working long hours from 5 am to 7 pm which are their typical working hours. These hours should be classed as unsuitable as most of the jobs are tough and dangerous. Some workers must endure temperatures reaching 32 degrees making them vulnerable to heat sickness.
The workers in the field are constantly exposed to dangerous levels of nicotine, enough that it has been identified as 6 cigarettes a day which may result in green tobacco sickness. One can also argue that tobacco companies should take CSR even more seriously, as their final products directly harm or kills its consumer and deteriorate health and life expectancy. Phillip Morris international carries the largest proportion of this responsibility as it, in the USA, possess 70% of the 700m pounds of tobacco grown each year.
Exposed to certain home situations, some children find themselves having to work very hard in order to contribute to the income within the household to make ends meet. Some parents even depend on their children’s pay and encourage children to lie about their age in order to gain employment. Although, sometimes, what different parts of the world considers exploitation of children is in fact considered a decent living in many developing countries around the world.
North Carolina farmers employ mostly Latin Americans, some undocumented, making them vulnerable to wage theft, exploitation and unsafe working conditions. If Philip Morris International offers good pay and suitable working conditions it will not only benefit the company but its workers also, maybe then most parents may not need to depend on their children’s income. The company distances itself from engaging in any trade that has connections with child or forced labourers.
However, Philip Morris International recognizes that labour abuse can often have underlying systemic causes which they continue to work with Verité and the Farm Labour Practices Group on. Philip Morris International hired a company to audit its supply chain and has discovered children working hazardous conditions on 16% of the US farms they visited. Miguel Coleta, Director of sustainability for PMI have stated that they are making progress in tackling the complex labour issues on farms supplying to PMI. The company is said to be working with certain groups to protect their workers’ rights and to achieve overall meaningful improvements on the ground.
To conclude, CSR within Philip Morris is without a doubt clearly understood in their actions. It seems, that PMI as a company must be more careful/ responsible, as their products are strongly disapproved of by the public because of child labour practices. These are the corporate responsibilities however I do not view the company of high standards because they allow child labour to happen, although legal within their organisation, it isn’t ethical.