When observing the working conditions of laborers working in many South East Asian textile factories, one can easily understand why laborers are unable to produce quality textiles. Workers are piled upon one another and stitching as quickly as they can in order to meet their daily objectives in a filthy, and completely disorganized environment . For factory owners it is all about “filling the mill” or going bankrupt. Their only rationale is capacity utilization as a means to achieve growth. Hence productivity must be maximized while outlays must be minimized and this at all cost, even if that means degrading the human race. Over time, the implications for the workers are damaging, as their environment is the only element they can associate themselves with.
Of course from a business perspective, in order to remain competetive one has to choose between either cost or differentiation However without a healthy balance and diversification strategy, a country becomes excessively over-reliant which consequently impair its ability to evolve and innovate.
Factory owners constantly putting profits over employee’s health and well-being will not be able to remain competitive over time. Firms all around the world are becoming more and more ethical and reluctant to do business with countries not investing in decent working environment (Greenhouse and Walsh, 2012).
Even though the positive correlation between good working environment and skills improvement as well as product quality is evident (Narayanan, 2005). Too little improvements have occurred so far for the simple reason that factory owners do not want to see their costs increase.
There is no real leadership or action from the government or big industry players, as this would impair the economy and industry’s short-term profit, growth and productivity.
Countries like Pakistan must learn from developed nations’ previous mistakes and view sustainability as a means of creating competitive advantage instead of viewing it as a requirement. However without any shift in paradigm from consumers, as well as government action this remains an unattainable objective.