How Indian Multinational Wipro Lives up to Their (Supplier) Code of Conduct

By Cézanne de Smet

As a Global Law Professor at KU Leuven Yvonne Erkens has taught the class Business and human rights from a labour law perspective. As part of their final assignment, the students participating in that course have written a blog about how companies in the Database of Business Ethics - chosen randomly - aim to comply with fundamental labour rights according to their (supplier) codes of conduct. In the upcoming weeks, the three best blogs will be published on our site. The first blog can be found below. 

How Indian Multinational Wipro Lives up to Their (Supplier) Code of Conduct

Although living and working conditions have improved so much over the years, we must not forget that this is not the case everywhere. It is easy to set goals on paper, but much harder to put them into practice. Throughout time, several organisations have made labour standards. These include the U.N. Global Compact, U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organisation's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

To give themselves a good name, companies are willing to refer to these rules in their code of conduct. In doing so, they create the impression that their company is committed to human rights, but often nothing could be further from the truth. If we start analysing these codes in depth, we see that words like "strive to", "encourage to", "insist", ...., are frequently used. These words do not hold any promise, even if they present an air of determination.

If we look at a company like Wipro, an Indian multinational which has already received several awards and recognition for their policies, it is striking that they often use these words in their Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct. From the perspective of the Code of Conduct, there is doubt as to whether Wipro imposes an obligation on itself to comply with these standards. The Code of Conduct mainly gives the impression that the responsibility lies primarily with the employees themselves. If there are problems, they may turn to internal bodies. Nevertheless, the company insists that they do everything possible to fulfil the five Core Labour Standards. This is especially noticeable in the Supplier Code of Conduct where there is an explicit provision that Wipro will terminate the contract with the supplier if they do not comply with "the Code or any other applicable law/regulations".

Fortunately, there is no bad report about Wipro. Wipro has also made an additional document in which they express their commitment to protect human rights. There was only one report on Wipro by the CSR journal and that could only conclude that Wipro is not a bad company. It is a company with multiple programs like the Santoor Women’s Scholarship to help and educate people. A company that really tries to hit its set targets.


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