Corporate Social Responsibility: Levi Strauss & Co - Case Study Example

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This study will begin with the statement that though the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been clearly defined in the 1950s, only in the recent decades it has become a visible and important aspect or organizational culture and performance…
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Corporate Social Responsibility: Levi Strauss & Co
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Download file to see previous pages The author of the paper states that the contemporary world, and the consumer society, in particular, requires businesses to contribute to the improvement and development of social initiatives. Consumers of our era do not go for the low price; on the contrary, they are more eager to buy from organizations that are socially responsible, that help local communities and stick to sustainable business practices. So, it can be said that it might be very difficult for a company to be successful without and well-developed and effectively implemented CSR program. For this reason, Levi Strauss, one of the most famous world clothing companies that operate internationally, devotes many resources to the CSR issues. The given paper will examine the most significant environmental and other social initiatives of the company, as well as analyze the impact and implications of the company’s actions on society and stakeholders. Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853 by a Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss (About Levi Strauss & Co. 2010). The company claims to have created the first pair of jeans in the world, and is now a successful international corporation, the three major divisions of which are Levi Strauss Corporate and Americas in San Francisco, Levi Strauss Europe, Middle East and North Africa in Brussels and Levi Strauss Asia Pacific in Singapore (Locations 2010). However, since the major goal of any business is profit, Levi Strauss, just like many other large corporations, did have difficulties balancing investment and human rights considerations. While the organization was one of the most socially responsible companies of the 1970s, the financial constraints related to high cost of domestic manufacturing in the 1990s finally made the company transfer manufacturing to China again (Vogel 2005). David Vogel (2005) reports that in 1993 Levi Strauss & Co. developed “Guidelines for Country Selection” and, as a result, withdrew its manufacturing from China. Violation of human rights of the people that were working on factories manufacturing for Levi Strauss was the reason to stop cooperation with the Chinese. The company’s upper management viewed this step as the one towards improving the brand image, corporate reputation and social standing of the organization. Since at that time Levi Strauss was the only company to make a decision that put human rights above commercial interests, the world responded with admiration and encouragement (Raworth 2004). However, it took Levi Strauss only 5 years to slowly return to Chinese labor for the purpose of increasing sales and profits. The company proclaimed that the human rights situation in China had improved. Still, the real reason behind their coming back was the cost of supplies and manufacturing. The high cost of production out of China made it difficult for Levi Strauss to compete with the rivals, especially in the Asian markets. Even the company’s president admitted that “You’re nowhere in Asia without being in China” (Kolk and Van Tulden 2002). This case shows that, even though the company might be willing to become more socially responsible, it may be financially disadvantaged to do business in certain countries only.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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