As retailers continue to struggle with how to deal with the disastrous garment factory deaths in Bangladesh—which killed more than 400 workers—The Walt Disney Co. is the first to come out and declare that it is pulling out of Bangladesh.
Disney's move reflects the difficult calculus that companies with operations in countries like Bangladesh are facing as they balance profit and reputation against the backdrop of a wrenching human disaster, reports The New York Times. "Bangladesh has some of the lowest wages in the world, its government is eager to lure Western companies and their jobs, and many labor groups want those big corporations to stay to improve conditions, not cut their losses and run," the Times story said.
"These are complicated global issues and there is no 'one size fits all' solution," said Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, in the story. "Disney is a publicly held company accountable to its shareholders, and after much thought and discussion we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain."
In Canada, Joe Mimran, creator of Loblaw's Joe Fresh brand of clothing, said Thursday (May 2) that Loblaw will start conducting audits of offshore vendors' buildings and facilities to ensure worker safety.
Loblaw said it plans to send four senior executives to Bangladesh next week to meet with labor officials and others to determine how to ensure safe working conditions, according to The Wall Street Journal. Mimran saod Loblaw already has ethical audits in place for vendors that are "quite good," but will now conduct structural audits, including reviewing building plans.
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