an increasingly globalized economy, more corporations are ‘outsourcing’ their production to countries with cheaper labor costs and less legal protection of workers’ rights. Some corporate managers, whether out of sincere moral concern or because they must respond to the considerations of investors and shareholders, are attempting to balance profit-making with social morality.
A DECENT FACTORY focuses on such an effort by Nokia, the Finnish electronics firm, which sends a team led by two business ethics advisors to examine conditions at a Chinese factory that supplies parts to Nokia. Filmmaker Thomas Balmès, having conducted three years of research on the subject, follows them on their investigative journey.
The film documents in fascinating detail their inspection of the plant, guided by its European and Chinese managers. During their tour the Nokia team investigates working and safety conditions, payroll records, and potential environmental hazards. They also conduct probing interviews with the factory managers as well as several of the young Chinese female employees who work and live in dormitories on the site.
The advisors’ final report to Nokia managers, which exposes numerous violations of even the less stringent Chinese laws on minimum wage and working conditions, confronts Nokia with the dilemma now facing an increasing number of Western firms-how is it possible to balance the profit motive with a sense of social responsibility?