Love in the Time of Consumerism
Business as usual?
Business as usual?
Valentine’s Day is upon us and it’s candy hearts, chocolate treats, and romantic gifts galore…If you are trying to find ethically sourced gifts for your valentine and/or galentine, what do you do?
“Responsible supply chain” certifications have become more in vogue as stakeholders try to better evaluate whether businesses are operating ethically.
There currently are multiple certifications operated by non-profits. In “responsible supply chains” you could get certifications ranging from “Rainforest Alliance” to “Fair Trade USA” to “Fairtrade America”…yes, you read that right…
However, large companies, such as Mondelez, have been moving away from non-profit certifications in favor of their own internal sourcing frameworks (doesn’t mean they aren’t doing the work…just makes it harder to understand)
One of the most common certifications for companies is B Corp. B Lab, the non-profit behind the B Corp Certification, has done a remarkable job creating a brand for socially responsible companies to tout. So remarkable that many people we’ve talked to — even those working in the sustainability space — don’t fully recognize the difference between a B Corp (logo with a B in a circle that is certified by the aforementioned non-profit) and a public benefit corporation (a legal corporate structure that includes public good as part of company charter in addition to maximizing shareholder profit).
B Corps require a high level of disclosure from its companies — as the mantra goes “what is measured is managed.” However, companies only need to achieve at least 80 out of 200 available points to be certified (that’s quite the curve…)
Becoming a B Corp ain’t cheap. Certification fee starts at $1,000 / year and scales with revenue
It’s complicated to maintain certifications as companies scale. Smaller companies that are set up as limited liability companies (LLCs) can change their structure to match B Corp’s standards, but larger corporations struggle with the legal implications and disclosure requirements. Just look at Etsy, which gave up its B Corp status in 2017
Being a responsible consumer requires work. Consider researching the supply chain transparency before you buy…
Given the plethora of certifications, check to see what certification reports the company has. For example, you can find the Patagonia’s B Lab report online and see where they are strong performers (spoiler alert: it’s in the community and environment)
Support brands that align with your values (e.g., fair wages and safe working conditions, using environmentally sustainable practices, etc.) Databases like Green America’s Chocolate Scorecard might help with your due diligence. And there are similar resources for the apparel industry, such as the Higg Material Sustainability Index or Good on You. None of these resources are the one-stop panacea for your questions, but these are good places to start doing your homework
Support legislation that requires corporations to consider all their stakeholders. The Accountable Capitalism Act, proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018, mandates that large U.S. companies obtain a new federal charter based on the state-level benefit corporation model, which obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders. This type of legislation would make non-profit certification less necessary since most companies would, by default, need to take into account these issues
Get excited about supply chain technology. Not only are there entire funds dedicated to supply chain innovation but there are also innovative companies, such as Supply Shift, creating tech-enabled tools to improve supply chain transparency. These technologies might be game changers — could your company use them?
Crime and No Punishment: The Golden Age of White Collar Crime “The wealthy have always attempted to spend their way to lighter sentences, but in the last two decades, the American judicial system has become increasingly willing to let them.” (It’s a long read but juicy…)
Key Kapitalists: Five Hedge Fund Heads Made More Than $1 Billion Each Last Year (Yes, I did hate-read this while staring wistfully at my savings account…)
Badass Alert: Check out this profile on Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the world’s largest flight-attendant union. She’s credited with helping end last year’s government shutdown when she lambasted the Trump administration for putting flight attendants and others at risk and called for a general strike
Environmental Opportunities and Risks: The potential for circular textiles to have a positive impact on work and workers! Meanwhile, water-related risks for businesses are increasing — including financial, reputational, and operational risks. Demand for water is expected to exceed supply by as much as 40% by 2030! How can businesses be better stewards?
Live and Let Die: Judge set to approve T-Mobile’s Sprint deal. On the other end of the spectrum, Brandless is the first SoftBank-backed startup to close its doors for good. It’s motto was “Live Well. Take Care. Do Good.” and was founded by Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler.
This is the second to last newsletter of our pilot test! Thank YOU for inspiring and challenging us to create Visible Hands and supporting this journey. Our final pilot newsletter will hit your inbox after President’s Day, and you will also receive a feedback survey next week. We look forward to hearing what you think and keeping the conversation going…more details to come!