Sunday, 28 November 2010

CSR Corporate Social Responsibility and corporate reputation

“The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility is one that has become increasingly popular over the past few decades as populations have become more aware of the implications big business can have on the world around us and “although organisations are not a state, country or region, they are part of the infrastructure of a society and as such they must consider their impact on it” (Trench and Yeomans, 2009).

I have covered some aspects of corporate social responsibility when talking about Virgin and Coca-Cola. However one company that has really turned themselves around in recent years is the retail company H&M. In 1997 H&M was accused of using child labour in the Philipines on a documentary broadcast in Sweden, yet now their website is full of statements on corporate social responsibility and how they as a company are eco-friendly etc.

H&M state under their Corporate responsibility section on the website that:

“H&M’s business concept is to offer our customers fashion and quality at the best price. At H&M, quality is about more than making sure that our products meet or exceed our customers' expectations. It also means that they have to be manufactured under good conditions and that our customers must be satisfied with us as a company. Taking responsibility for how our operations affect people and the environment is also an essential prerequisite for H&M's continued profitability and growth.”

Follow the link to watch a video on corporate responsibility, uploaded by H&M

H&M even have a question and answers section where they have answered the question: “What do you do to safeguard the rights of factory employees?”

H&M’s response was:

“At the core of our programme to improve working conditions at our suppliers is our code of conduct. We regularly monitor our suppliers to see that they comply with the requirements set out in our code. But checking compliance is not always enough to tackle complex issues. We therefore have different initiatives that go beyond monitoring.”

H&M have really taken on board what the critics have been saying. They now make sure the factory workers do not receive under the minimum wage, they do not condone child labour and are now even the world’s largest users of organic cotton, and these are just a handful of the improvements they have made. However are all these changes due to a regard of the public’s interest? Do they actually care about being eco-friendly? Or are they just doing it so as not to earn a bad reputation and for sales to continue to soar (ROI return of investments)?

“Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” – CIPR

With this in mind it would appear that the current PR practitioners of H&M are very good at their jobs as the improvements seem to be remarkable and vast. There are three core components that make up the process of reputation management. The PR practitioner involved in rebuilding

H&M’s reputation would have looked at: crisis management, social responsibility and issues management. Yet now that H&M have over-come those obstacles; does this now mean we now trust them entirely or will there always be a slight niggling thought in the back of our minds?

Also…check out H&M’s current Lanvin collection, it has been described as one of the most amazing collaborations of all time. It came out on Nov 23rd and is practically all sold out. I’m very upset that I missed out on the coffee-coloured, fake fur coat with the dark brown trim. There is always ebay though :)


  1. Many other companies such as Nike and Primark have had similar CSR issues as H&M however I do not believe that any of these companies have turned themselves around as much as H&M appear to have. They really have gone all out to amend the situation they were in, which is especially apparent after looking at their website which is now full of environmentally friendly campaigns they have been involved in. I for one can say that I now trust them in this respect as they have definitely proved to me that they are a reputable company who care about the environment and their workers.

    I am also a very big fan of the fashion world and plan to be a fashion merchandiser. I can't say that the Lanvin for H&M collection was entirely to my taste though, I much preferred the Roberto Cavalli collaboration H&M did in 2007.

  2. H&M do appear to have turned things around but as they say 'seeing is believing' therefore I do not think I can fully believe they have made these changes in the factories until I see it with my own eyes.

    The Roberto Cavalli collection is also my preferred collaboration of H&M’s. I wasn’t too keen on the Stella McCartney collection as it was really casual. I did quite like the Jimmy Choo collection for H&M though.
    I really can’t think what other ones there have you know? Also who was the very first high end fashion designer that H&M decided to join forces with?

  3. I think the first collaboration was with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004 wasn't it? They've also joined forces with Viktor and Rolf and Comme Des Garcons. I don't think that all these high end designers would associate themselves with H&M if they believed the company was continuing to be Socially irresponsible, would they?

  4. Karl Largerfeld is one of my ultimate top designers..Chanel are classic collections.. and I had no idea about that..i should be ashamed. 

The designers possibly would try to steer clear of H&M if they were socially irresponsible but Karl Lagerfeld has been at the heart of a lot of he doesnt wear real fur himself but he believes that fur belongs in the fashion world. He said "In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags is fine, the discussion of fur is childish" obviously PETA had a negative response to this and other animal activists. Maybe thats why Largerfeld hasnt designed for H&M in recent years ha x

  5. Oh no apparently Karl Largerfeld has said that he won't work with H&M again as he accused them of snobbery for not producing enough of his designs...he said.."it has defeated my intention of making clothes available to the thousands of people who can not afford to shop at Lagerfeld Gallery, Chanel or Fendi" NOOOO

  6. How far can we trust any of those who are claiming their ethics to have improved. Apparently even those things (including food products) that are labelled with 'Made in UK' have only to have undergone their last major change in the UK, meaning all the prep work up until the last moment can have been done in another country. Things may have improved on the surface and in the public eye but perhaps not at a fundamental level.

    God, there are so many Diva's in the fashion world! Haha, If Lagerfeld wants his clothes to be more widely available he knows what to do. He does have a point about fur and leather though. Speaking from a vegetarian perspective, If you are going to kill an animal you might as well use it to it's full potential and use every bit that you can for different purposes, like the Inuits do. What good is it to kill an animal for food and then chuck away the rest of because it's not deemed to be socially acceptable?

  7. Hey
    I think its a great thing that H&M have managed to turn around their company ethics but I still cant shake the fact that apart from Primark they are probably still the cheapest retailer on the high street market. They must be saving money somewhere? Or maybe its just because they are a very large company and have stores all across Europe as well as the UK?
    I just think that no matter how good their ethical rules are the minimum wage and general standards in the country's they manufacture in are not good enough to ensure that the workers are treated as well as they would be if H&M manufactured in countries with higher human rights standards.
    But then I suppose it is providing constant, reliable work to people who might not have it otherwise.
    On another not I wasn't too keen on the Lanvin collection (except a few really amazing dresses) either but I do think that designer- high street collaborations are a really good way to make high profile designs more accessible. All high street shops should do more of them as they must boost sales loads too.

  8. I agree with Pearl about the fur. People on the tube sometimes make really bad comments to my friend who wears real fur coat. But its ridiculous because they do so wearing leather shoes and holding leather bags which will have been made from leather that was brand new at the point of manufacture whilst my friends coat is vintage and recycled from one person to the next.

  9. Yes you have made a great point...the 'made in the UK' situation does baffle me. I have no idea how this is acceptable.
    I also find that on items of food.. they legally have to write on the nutritional values.. yet when I look at the calorie section, they write for instance...30g contains 87 calories...but its a 100g bar and so you have to work out the total calorie count and they will also write the amount of grams really small... I just find it rather sneaky as to me it appears that they are saying the full bar contains 87 calories. VERY ANNOYING

    I couldn't have put across your point about using the animals fur as well as the meat any better. I do think the whole of the animal should be used otherwise there is no point in killing it

  10. p.s. just bought a suede coat (with chocolate coloured Faux fur collar, Yum) so maybe I'm just trying to justify being a bad Veggie.....It is vintage though...hmmm

  11. Thanks for your comment Katie..
    I believe that H&M is still one of the cheapest fashion retailers on the high street due to the fact that they only just pay their factory workers around the world just over the minimum wage.

    If a now rare animal was made into a fur coat a long time ago and it is now classed as vintage. I certainly see no point in throwing it away..I would love to own an item such as this. However I would not condone wearing a fur coat recently made from a rare species (now also illegal). I know there are also places where they breed animals such as make them into fur garments etc but I too don't find this a country girl...i know that rabbits are riddled in disease and are over populating certain parts of the country and certainly need culling.