How Business Can Boost Human Rights In 2021
— December 21, 2020
By Michael Posner
Address economic inequality
The pandemic has laid bare our dramatic economic inequality. In 2020 almost eight million Americans have descended into poverty, and almost a quarter of U.S. households are food insecure. By contrast, stock prices have reached near record highs. This growing inequality is the central social problem facing our society and the world, which the government alone cannot solve. The largest companies need to reassess their business models and among other things, better manage their global engagements. While outsourcing production often improves productivity and creates jobs in developing countries, businesses need to undertake these engagements in ways that protect those workers and do not unnecessarily exacerbate economic inequality.
Reform buyer- supplier relations in post-COVID supply chains
In the spring of 2020, as their revenues plummeted, global clothing and other consumer goods companies unilaterally changed the terms of their contractual relations with their suppliers, in some cases refusing to pay them at all for goods already produced. By invoking the force majeure clauses in contracts these large companies made clear the imbalance in their relationships with local factory owners. Their unethical conduct underscored the need for reform of the norms governing purchasing practices and shared standards governing buyers-supplier relations.
Read the full Forbes article.
Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.