With globalization encouraging development of Multinational Corporation, the world today is faced by challenges caused these corporations. Multinationals have led to environmental pollution and are equally neglecting their social responsibility. Many environmentalists are against the Multinationals’ exploits. They are calling on the corporations to adhere to the code of conduct set by the business profession and preserve the environment. Despite these calls, multinational corporations are still exploiting workers in the developing countries and dumping toxic wastes in the environment.
Corporations in the current world have been bestowed with the task of being socially responsible. Despite this task, various multi national corporations still pursue profits without taking into account the social consequences involved. Such Multinational corporations end up gaining profits at the expense of the environment and their employees. Most of the multinational corporations have gone to the extent of polluting the environment without taking into account future impacts of pollution to the environment. Social scientists who have taken to the study of multi national and their role in environmental pollution have shown that capitalism has led to corporations shifting their pollution effect to the developing nations of the world (Adeola 20).
Most of the Multinational corporations are focused on making profits. Therefore, they seek the cheapest means to accomplish their goal. The cheapest means is usually employing workers under poor wages and poor working conditions. Critics have accused multi nationals of exploiting workers in developing countries. There have been calls from all over the world for multi nationals to adopt a code of conduct that would ensure they maintain environment’s integrity while providing better working conditions (Chandler & Werther 31). In the developed countries, amalgamation of the civil right groups and environmental protection groups have been used to address problems associated with multinational corporations unlike in developing nations where such structures are not in existence. Environmental degradation, employee exploitation and human rights violation are subjects that have been intertwined with the emergence of global multinationals. These problems have been discussed below in detail.
Impacts of Multinational Corporations on Workers and the Environment
Globalization has encouraged development of multi national corporations in today’s society. Some of these multi nationals have taken considerable care to ensure that the welfare of the society has been safe guarded. However, some of them have pursued profits thus neglecting the welfare of the society. Among these multi nationals are the oil companies that have polluted the environment without considering future consequences. These companies have exploited oil with a profit driven motive. In the long run, the environment has suffered due to neglect and dumping of toxic wastes. For example, the case of oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico was disastrous to marine life. This disaster was the fault of BP; a multi national corporation specialized in oil exploration. In this disaster oil flowed for three months in the Gulf of Mexico causing massive death of the marine life. With BP aiming to make profits rather than conserve the environment, marine life suffered. Despite this disaster being termed as accidental, BP could have prevented its occurrence had they taken their time and money to build better equipment in their exploration venture.
In the developing world, oil exploitation has led to displacement of communities. Displacements usually affect the peasant farmers and hunter-gatherer community (Adeola 687). For example, Talisman Energy Corporation an oil exploiting company in Sudan was forced to withdraw from the country after numerous accusations were directed towards them. The company was accused of violating human rights and illegal displacement of population in Sudan for the purpose of oil exploitation (Sarah & Betsy 4). Another example is the case of ChevronTexaco and Shell’s oil who have well documented cases of human right abuse and population displacement in the course of their businesses (Sarah & Betsy 6).
Environmental degradation is not limited to oil exploitation industry only. Several multi nationals are engaged in exploitation of the forests and its products. Such multi nationals have been known to be involved extreme logging. These multinationals are also involved in displacement of indigenous populations and an assault on their cultures (Adeola 47). A good example is the case of Malaysia Penang tribe of Borneo rainforest. This tribe faces major social challenges due to invasion of the forest by the government and multinational corporations. With the increased logging activities by the multinational corporations, the forest cover is being depleted at a high rate. These exploits by both the government and the multinational corporation has been attributed to over 2 billion dollars in profits being generated by the logging industry (Southgate 701). These multinational have also taken advantage of the poor economic condition in Malaysia to employ workers at lower wages. The corporations on the other hand make super profits from exploiting the forest resources and the indigenous population. Environmentalists and other conservation groups have warned that the degree of exploitation in the forest is exceeding that of the Amazon (Adeola 37). Therefore, if the rates of exploitation continue the forest is bound to be fully depleted of its resources soon. According to Adeola (2001), there is evidence that the indigenous population communal land has been reduced to an approximate of 30,300 ha due to the exploitation by multicorporations (40). This figure is less by 5000 acres that the forest was in 1968 (Adeola 40).
Historically multi nationals have been attracted to developing countries by the availability of cheap labor, raw materials and poor regulations. Multinationals therefore invest in these countries in order to maximize their profits. In the process, they end up exploiting workers by offering wages below the level they would have offered in their country of origin. The working conditions provided by the multinationals are also poor and undesirable due to the lack of proper government regulations. This lack of suitable government regulation has also led multinational corporations neglecting the environment. Usually, in order to minimize their costs, the multinational corporations dump toxic, untreated waste in the environment. A good example is the Bophal gas leak tragedy where a multi national entered a developing nation (India) with the aim of making profits. Neglect led to a toxic gas leaking from their factory. The gas leak caused massive death. Bullard (1990), in his book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality, termed this act as environmental terrorism (51). He explained that the multinational took advantage of the poor countries to dump highly toxic wastes in the environment thus causing extensive pollution and pollution related problems. Evidence available suggests that despite incorporation of corporate social responsibility, dumping of toxic wastes in developing by multinational corporations is still rampart.
Multinational corporations aim at making profits without considering the social responsibility bestowed upon them. In disregarding these responsibilities, they cause pollution thus destroying the environment. The corporations dump toxic wastes in the environment, destroy the forest cover and cause massive population displacement. Such multinational corporations have been referred to as environmental terrorists. Multi National Corporations have also been known to disregards the needs of their employees especially in developing countries. These corporations pay lower wages and have employees working under poor conditions. To combat these challenges caused by multi nationals, a code of conduct has been established. This code bestows the task of social responsibility upon multinational corporations and other corporation that have neglected their responsibilities.
Adeola, Francis. “Environmental Injustice and Human Rights Abuse: The States, MNCs, and Repression of Minority Groupsin the World System”. Human Ecology Review 8.1 (2001): 39-55. Print
Bullard, Robert. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and EnvironmentalQuality. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990. Print
Chandler, David. A. & Werther, William. Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility. New York: Sage Publications, 2006. Print
Sarah, Martin & Betsy, Apple. “Sudan: Oil Exploration Fueling. Displacement in the South”. Refugees International. Washington, DC: Sage, 2006. Print.
Southgate, Moses. “Cross-national Environmental Injustice and Human Rights Issues: A Review of Evidence in the Developing World”. American Behavioral Scientist 43.4 (2000): 686-706. Print