Overseas manufacturing and production of goods has given rise to a huge boom in profitability and output for multinational corporations. Companies can now make more for less, which is great news to any stockholders or company owners. However, they have also given rise to sweatshops with atrociously low wages and abhorrent work conditions. Again and again we are seeing people question the morality of these sweatshops wondering what should be done. The answer is not as simple as it may first seem. While it seems easy to say "just raise their wages" the actual application of such is more complex. As a CEO you have an obligation to your stockholders and to your job to increase profitability however as a person, you have a moral obligation to your fellow humans to reduce suffering. As a CEO, I would raise wages because morally, it is the right thing to do. .
The issue at hand here is that, as we know, sweatshops have notoriously low wages and poor working conditions; however they are very profitable for companies running them. As a hypothetical CEO, should we make the decision to reduce our profitability by 3% in order to raise the wages of workers? As we know, CEO's have a moral obligation to increase profit and their companies value. The problem also lies in the fact that by raising wages, a firm naturally fires or hires less people which leaves more people unemployed or forced to work truly horrendous jobs such as in the case of the note sent in by David Pogue recounting his aunt working in prostitution. So, knowing that workers will be forced to work other jobs if the wages are raised, should it still be done? And what does Kant have to say on the topic of our moral obligations towards sweatshops? .
Kant is rather explicitly against sweatshops for numerous reasons. His second formulation of the categorical imperative is "Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only" (Arnold & Bowie, 609).