Monday, April 19, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility

Western Products
Many things come to one’s mind when reading the headline of this essay, one aspect being the clothes we wear, be it fashion or just a pair of jeans. Behind all the fashion brands a story of cruelty is often hiding. The truth is, that when you go shopping, you will only see half of what you are actually paying for, the rest of the ‘product’ can be found in Asia’s many sweatshops where women and children are working up  to 19 hours a day to sew your clothing for merely a few dollars a day. 

Globalization in your drawers
When talking about globalization, often, the focus is on the impact it has on consumers. While this may be oh-so interesting, let us not forget the impact consumers have on the globalization. Making products from all over the world available to everyone, gives the consumers that much more power. Garments are often produced in sweatshops in Asia, be it China, India or other countries where the poor are way below poverty limits. Labor here is cheap and as mentioned, it is not uncommon to be working 19 hours a day. You don’t think of that when you drag on your new pair of ONLY jeans, because no one told you. The companies do their best to hide the fact that by buying their products one sponsors the use of sweatshops, and thereby torture-like production methods in East Asia. Before you go burn all your clothes and decide to grow your own hemp so you can sew 100% ecological and socially responsible clothes, consider the alternative. If the sweatshops had to close because western people stopped buying their products, where would these people go to make money? That’s right, they would have nowhere to go and would eventually starve to death. 

Corporate Social Responsibility
Is a term used by the companies and media to highlight all the good things that companies does do. It consists of many things, widely explained as something beyond making money, thereby satisfying shareholders, employees and so forth. Human rights organizations want companies to ban the use of child labor as a part of their CSR. They argue that being socially responsibly all the way down to the end of the production chain, where the kids are cutting of loose threads from finished garments, can be used positively in marketing as well. Not only that, should the media find out that companies are using child labor, it would be bad PR, so it can also prevent public humiliation.
When pictures do reach the public and cause humiliation for the companies they are good at saying how they did not know anything about it and that they will take immediate action. A typical reaction would be that company X has fired supplier Z, burned all their clothes, given the kids and families money for food and schooling, and changed to supplier Y. What really happened is that supplier Z changed name to supplier Y and everything continuous just as before, now with a new sign on the door. 

Do they really suffer?
While the pictures of women and children in sweatshops may be horrifying, what would the consequences of moving the production to more ‘acceptable’ accommodations be? As mentioned earlier, if these already poor people were to lose their only income, would they be in a better position than before? They may be having a hard time now, but imagine what sudden changes would do. Companies should be working towards slowly improving the quality of life at factories where they have their garments produced. The real issue however lies with government and the way international laws and regulations are implemented, or ignored, in the individual country. For all these changes to really work out, it is more important than ever, to appeal to the countries rather than the manufacturers. If the fashion brands or manufacturers start slacking and increase their prices, while the products remain the same, competitors will take over their share and kick them out of business, for good. That is how the situation looks right now at least, where CSR is only starting to become a noticeable factor for the consumers. However… 

In the future
Bad working conditions are as described not only to be blamed on the companies, rather also the consumers always aiming to get clothes cheaper, not that one could blame them. There will be no changes in the near future, but as CSR becomes more important for the consumers, fashion brands will have to work towards fighting child labor, bad working conditions etcetera. To change all these bad things, the human rights organizations must reach out to the consumers, you… If you want to change these things, stop asking companies to change the things…
Be the change.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Combining school and fun?

Sounds wrong right? Just like: "Normally I wouldn't..." but then why did you do it anyways? A question to which many probably does not have an answer, or don't want to answer, but...

Normally I wouldn't do this, but...
It happens to be so that apparently the Danish school system is introducing blog writing as a part of the English exam, and I'm like: "If I'm gonna do this shit anyways, I might as well throw it on my own blog!"... so here it is! The assignment is to first read a sample blog post (for all those that don't even know what it is, pfft!), and watch two video clips, then have your own say at said topic. This time, it's Starbucks! The two video clips are Are you in? and the Starbuck (red) Ad. And here is my attempt on the assignment:

What if I'm not in?
I have one major problem with Starbucks, before revealing it though, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on this company with you.

I think it's really nice that there are people out there who wants to help. I am not talking about the costumers, but somewhere inside the company Starbucks there must be some people that wants to help not only their local communities, as seen in their Are you in? ad, but also on a more large perspective with their (red) ad

To me it's obvious that all this charity coming from not only Starbucks, but also many other companies (e.g. Ronald McDonald foundation), must be seen as just another marketing trick, trying to boost sales. With coffee as expensive as Starbucks' is, they better be doing something sensisble with all my money.

My first (and only) experience with Starbucks was in The Lion Yard Shopping Centre in Cambridge, UK. Amazing place by the way, they even have the Dyson Airblade handdryer on their toilets there, I'll write more about why this handdryer is so amazing another day, back to the Starbucks coffee shop that is placed on the 1st floor right next to the exit of the escalator.

I went in there with my classmates who were all getting different drinks, not being a huge coffee fan myself, I ordered a large chocolala dé something. With some uncertainty due to the IKEA-effect* playing with my senses, I can say that this was indeed the second best cup of chocolate drink I have ever had, it was, amazing, so good that I still remember it today. Let us all take a moment to lean back, close our eyes and think at the last time we had a cup of our favourite drink...

... felt good right?

That memory is probably what makes Starbucks worth it, too bad that, except in the airports, there are none in Denmark...

*When you have walked around IKEA for long enough, ANY chair is a GOOD chair, so you end up sitting down in a random leather sofa to find yourself buying it 15 minutes later.

And that concludes our broadcast day, at least for the Starbucks part. What is your thought on Starbucks by the way? And is this a good way to do assignments in a school? Can you even consider a blog 'schoolwork', any thoughts folks?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pre- paring for release!

With the upcoming release of Magic: The Gathering: Rise of the Eldrazi I thought it would be time to introduce this not-so-hidden side of my personality; my great passion for Magic: The Gathering, or in short, just Magic. I have been outside the Magic-scene for quite some time and I've neve been a bigshot but that does not hinder me from sharing my words of wisdom on these little events, that serves many different types of excited Magic players.

There are guides out there on the internet, some good ones too, that will help you on how to create the perfect deck for a prerelease.

At a prerelease you will face many different competitors, which especially at this expansion will play a major role. The introduction of the hard-hitting and very expensive Eldrazi Creatures will surely tempt many young minds to put one or two of these in their decks, should they get their hands on one as they open their booster packs. But one should keep in mind that Rise of the Eldrazi is a slow ekspansion, which means that being able to play spells early and fast will give you a big advantage. The spoilers show this too and with all this evil big bad stuff on the playing field, here is what I will aim for when making my deck at the prerelease.

What to do
  • Make sure your deck is 40 cards exactly (minimum), to ensure you will draw all your good cards as often as possible.
  • Stick to as few colors as possible, 2 or 3, to avoid having to manafix too much, and not getting the right colors of mana when you need them
  • Keep a low and even mana-curve, to make sure you will be able to play even bigger and more evil spells throughout the game.
  • Focus on creatures with evasion. Evasion can be flying, shadow or unblockable. Things that make them deal damage without getting in trouble for it.
In addition, avoid all the big and fancy rares. If you can make a fast deck that can end the game before your opponents get one on the battlefield, you have ensured your way to the victory. A solid deck of decent commons and uncommons will serve you very well.

This is only a short guide, for more information I recommend following some of the links I've given or simply Google it!