The human rights issue has been addressed aggressively and vocally by seemingly every entity from governments to activists groups, and from an overall perspective globally, human rights have improved somewhat. Although there is still much room for advancement, at least the cause has generated a significant amount of publicity that has resulted in rising awareness of those nations that devalue human life. Even corporate America has furthered the human rights agenda, at least in some sense, by donating to those organizations that serve as watchdog groups to ensure basic human rights for all and justice for the persecuted.
Still, the question beckons, can companies positively impact human rights around the world? The answer is a resounding yes. Corporations represent the universal language of money, and to a small, poor, economically developing country the influx of business from major corporations is as welcome as any anticipated upgrade can be. In a small nation, the entire infrastructure can be significantly modernized with the acquisition of a few large corporate bases or franchises. Tax bases swell, standard of living rises, and most importantly, values of the larger global community are subtly impressed upon the host country. Exposure to other cultures in which human rights violations are not acceptable can begin the process of change in an archaic system riddled with injustice.
The financial power wielded by corporate giants translates to political influence on both a national and local level, as the scramble for a piece of the corporate pie commences. Pet projects of standing governments have a greater opportunity of fulfillment if an accord can be struck with the corporation providing financial backing. Especially in developing countries, single corporations have the potential to sway elections and change laws, discretely and privately, far from the public eye. At the least, corporations have easy control of human rights within the close proximity of their physical plant, and can serve as an educator to employees and their families on how the civilized world views human rights violations.
While employees of a major corporation in a foreign country are native citizens, they are also a part of the corporate family, and as such their interests are guarded against excessive distress placed upon them by government. Perhaps because for the first time in their lives they have found a powerful ally, they will be more forceful in their personal stand on human rights, and let their voices be heard.