Retailing Behemoths Agree on Code of Conduct
The story here (also fronted in the FT). With half a trillion dollars in annual sales, this effort of Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour and Metro — the world’s four largest superstores — is bound to be of consequence.
One question mark: can a code such as this, labeled the Global Social Compliance Program and purporting to regulate the company’s suppliers on such issues as child labour and wages, succeed without the support of the labor/human rights community? My guess is that the NGOs will have to be brought on board in some formal way (via an advisory council of some sort) or the project will fail as insufficiently inclusive of stakeholder voices. There’s also the question of whether this model of privately-sponsored and supervised social responsibility will carry the day, or whether some public umbrella (in the way of the UN Global Compact, in which none of these companies participate) is necessary as a legitimating institutional feature.