This Week’s Conscious Capitalism in the News: 28th annual SRI (Sustainable Responsible Impact) conference in San Diego, 5 tips for to better business ethics for leaders, new app detects sustainable products, and more…
The popularization of companies aligning their financial performance with positive impact has hundreds of like-minded people joining the 28th annual SRI (Sustainable Responsible Impact) conference in San Diego this fall. Thought leaders, investors, and investment pros from all over the globe will meet to discuss a multitude of topics ranging from a more environmentally sustainable economy to responsible investing.
Here are the top 5 topics being discussed at the event this November:
- The rapid and popularized involvement of the impact investing industry (big names like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are engaged now, too.)
- Increased global focus on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Many management teams and companies are being judged more by their progress on SDGs.
- Networking as a valuable tool to connect likeminded leaders in the financial world.
- Investing for competitive returns while maintaining the standard of positive impact.
- Branding to serve and attract impact-oriented investors.
The fast pace of society equates with the ever-evolving constructs of a business mindset that just wants to make a buck. With much of the mayhem swarming our news headlines, many businesses are tired of this game and stepping up to the plate, hungry for change and ready to bat with their moral compass. The CEO’s from companies like JP Morgan, the Ford Foundation, and General Motors, are among the top big name brands that have enthused sentiments in favor of speaking the truth even at the risk of deep criticism or lowered funds.
Simply put, more big brands are willing and ready to fight for what they believe in.
Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of Patagonia, is one such public figure who believes that “without a healthy planet there are no shareholders, no customers, no employees.”
This statement bears both positive and empowering news.
Below are the 5 steps Yvonne believes are necessary to lead with integrity, strength, and better business ethics in mind:
- Lead an examined life.
- Clean up your act.
- Do your penance.
- Support civil democracy.
- Positively influence other companies.
Palm oil is all the rage right now and it is being consumed (and applied) at a rapid rate. In fact, many of the familiar products we use on a daily basis are embedded with it. Sadly, the palm oil pre-production process often involves deforestation for the sake of growing crops, and unethical treatment of its plantation workers. This affects an entire ecosystem. Plants, animals, and humans all rely on a symbiotic relationship. When one is harmed, all feel the disruption.
How do we spot these products and what can we do to help our friends and the environment?
Thanks to the efforts of the global multi-stakeholder initiative Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), we now have a tech tool to spot products that are made with (or without) sustainable palm oil. The RSPO Trademark app is now available to download on your iOS or Android device. With this tool, conscious consumers can breathe easy as they browse the grocery aisles and feel more confident about the integrity of the products they buy.
Simply scan your product using the app to find out if it is sustainably made!
While this dilemma is not disappearing overnight, having the right tools on hand paired with proper awareness will aid in conscious efforts to care for the earth, and pay our rent to the planet.
Fast forward to the year 2025. The tech giant HP has some big plans for the coming years, all of which involve elevated standards of living for its employees, and innovative ways to protect the environment. This is nothing new for HP. Over the years, this global multinational company has devoted its resources to advancing and empowering its workers while conducting a prosperous and ethical business mindset.
This timeline shows the positive impact that HP has made over the years:
- In 2000, HP started the Supply Chain Responsibility programme which works to reduce the negative impacts of its processes on the environment while protecting the wellbeing of its supplier factory workers.
- In 2010, HP made it to the Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens list and was named the second most admired company in the world by Fortune Magazine.
- In 2015, HP helped to develop the skills and empower the lives of half a million of its workers by teaching them worker safety, financial security, and healthcare.
- Presently, HP employs people to collect the littered plastic bottles that, once recycled, become their ink cartridges.
Beyond 2025, HP stands by the goal that “everyone, everywhere, will have the skills and opportunities to thrive.” One of the biggest names in the computer industry is living by the values that it presents to the public eye and doing so prosperously. This brand is living proof that money can follow integrity.
The iPhone: a device that is possibly as ubiquitous as PB&J, yet what goes on behind the scenes before this gadget lands in our hands? Let’s take a look at the ethics behind a brand and consider the hard facts first (and alternative devices) before we swipe a vote with our cards.
Fact 1: Let’s rewind to 2010. Foxconn, part of the Apple empire and one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers, was blamed for a string of 17 worker suicides due to their well-known “military management” methods and unsafe factory conditions.
What was their solution to the issue? Setting anti-jumping nets atop their building.
Fact 2: Besides dangerous factory conditions, another factor to consider is the way the workers are paid. Wages are extremely low. In order for an average iPhone worker in China to make $650 a month, they would need to do 80-90 hours of overtime each month which is more than double the legal cap of 36 hours.
Now that we have more facts on hand about what goes into the making of a much-beloved product, what do we do with this awareness and how can we find products with a fair supply chain?
Take a look at the Fairphone. This is a smart device with ethics in mind and a brand that is setting higher standards for all techies out there. Sleek modular design, fair materials, and good working conditions are a part of the package with this smartphone.
Getting the facts straight helps to keep us in alignment with the right brands, ones that are promoting products of higher good and quality. How companies regard their employees offers potent insight into its ultimate integrity or lack thereof.
Let’s think twice next time we swipe on our chosen mobile device.
Photo by Igor Son