Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hewlett Packard and the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative


Over the course of the 2009/2010 academic year, HNMCP partnered with Hewlett Packard (HP) and the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative (CSRI) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to research and help find ways for workers at two electronics factories in southern China to resolve their disputes. HNMCP also investigated whether those dispute resolution practices changed subsequent to an effort by HP to improve the quality of worker grievance systems at its various supplier factories worldwide. The purpose of HNMCP’s research was twofold: 1) to compare the grievance mechanisms at each factory against a set of seven principles proposed in 2008 by Prof. John Ruggie, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Business and Human Rights; and 2) to comment on the SRSG’s Principles themselves.

HNMCP’s collaboration is an adjunct to CSRI’s four “Grievance Mechanisms Pilot Projects,” each of which involves a significant global corporation operating in a different business sector. HNMCP’s effort unfolded in two stages. Our Fall ‘09 semester project evaluated the impact of HP’s efforts and provided management at the two supplier factories with specific feedback about the effectiveness and rights-compatibility of their worker grievance mechanisms. Our Spring ’10 project brought together representatives from HP, Chinese NGOs focusing on corporate social responsibility, management, and workers in an effort to jointly address some of the shortcomings identified at one of those factories. From this project, Clinical Instructor Stephan Sonnenberg ’06 wrote a white paper, “Assessment of the Grievance Systems at Delta & Chicony Analysis and Recommendations for Future Action,” which was included in a larger report produced by the CSRI, “Piloting Principles for Effective Company-Stakeholder Grievance Mechanisms: A Report of Lessons Learned.”

To read the CSRI report, click here. The contribution by Stephan Sonnenberg ’06 on behalf of HNMCP begins on page 77.