What does it mean to me to be an Ethical Design Company?
The terms ethical, fair and socially responsible are banded around quite a lot these days and sometimes it’s a concern to businesses who’ve been working in this way for many years that perhaps with everyone jumping on the band-wagon the true values could lose meaning.
For me being an ethical company means that I work with suppliers and clients who I am confident are working in a fair and socially responsible manner. My network includes organisations who have been audited to assure this, members of various bodies like the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), GOTS and Carbon Neutral organisations as well as local suppliers and other organisations like my own.*
I use printers who have sustainable recycling programmes in place, suppliers of branded products are often local family organisations with strong ethics and I enjoy working exclusively with clients whose services and products range from organic, fair trade, charitable, independent and/or have a positive impact on the environment and community.
I also work with my local businesses in Northumberland where I can and believe in a balance of supporting my local economy in harmony with those across the globe – after all the world is our country. For me it’s simply about the ethics at the core of everything I do being fair – and having worked extensively in the fair trade industry before I started One Line Studio I’d like to think I know what fair really means. 😉
But that’s enough about me!
The question is – is ethical business just a trend at the moment or are companies genuinely responding to a consumer market who are, as statistics are showing more concerned with how the services and products they consume affect the world around them.
On the positive hand I can truly say I’m happy that the terms ethical and fair are becoming more popular in our discussions about products and business. Raising awareness of a fairer way of doing things can only be a good thing and I was delighted recently to see that in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland the North East Institute of Business has pledged it’s support for ethical business and you can pledge for free here too http://www.nibe.org.uk/pledge/
What this heightened awareness means is that at the very least new businesses (who are the future) especially small-medium ones and entrepreneurs have to be conscious of their ethical standpoint and older ones are having to re-think where they stand.
I know there will be many skeptics out there who say that companies are just using the ethical trend as a brand or a marketing tool – and in some respects they’d be completely right.
About a year ago I met an interesting chap who was in charge of marketing for a high profile corporation, who produce products which may be currently sitting on your bathroom shelf. In response to market research that consumers were starting to favour natural, organic products said company launched an expensive branding and marketing campaign for one product line – to relaunch it as a natural sensation. Knowing full well that generally we associate nature/natural with something good and wholesome and well – good for the planet right? Wrong this product uses so much palm oil it contributes hugely to the rapid decline of the worlds precious rainforests – currently being destroyed in order to harvest palm trees. You’d be forgiven for buying into the brand – that’s what good branding does it makes you feel and believe in the product – but on the other hand should we always be sceptical that no matter what a big company is just out to make money? Maybe not?? Any business has to make money to survive and again I think it’s about balance and about making responsible decisions when there is no need to take the non-ethical route – it’s a complete misconception that ethical is more expensive FACT!
Waving the flag for success is the Lego Greenpeace campaign which has seen Lego shirk supplier Shell due to it drilling the Arctic – if like me you love a random sing-song the Lego movie theme tune just try and keep you happy thoughts about it while you watch this link… it’s down to the choices consumers make and it’s truly inspiring to think with every generation we seem to care just that little bit more about the future of our planet!
Well I think that’s enough preaching for now but I’d love your thoughts and experiences of ethical business please feel free to post below…