When it comes to corporations, maximizing profit margins has always been of the highest priority. Outsourcing manufacturing to other countries has consistently been the least expensive way for companies to source goods. However, ethical sourcing has recently begun to gain popularity and we wanted to delve into what it is and who is doing a great job implementing it.
Defining Ethical Branding
If you read the definition of ethical branding provided by the Branding Journal, you will find that an ethical brand is one that:
- Does not harm the environment, people, or animals
- Is morally correct
- Contributes to the public good and society in a positive, responsible, and sustainable way
Why Ethical Branding Matters
While not every company out there is putting an emphasis on ethical sourcing and many products are still involved with unethical business practices, the trend is turning toward one that prioritizes sustainability. With the Internet a worldwide phenomenon, the world is more connected than ever before. That means the bad business practices and unethical actions are far more likely to be seen and spread to others.
Consumers who care about ethics can also now find the brands that resonate with them much more easily. Trade Ready notes that “as customers increasingly use their purchasing power to send the message that ethical sourcing and manufacturing is important to them, more businesses will change their practices as they acknowledge it makes good financial sense.” With that in mind, more companies are taking ethical stances and the world of business is changing.
Companies that Represent Ethical Branding
In order to get an idea of what an ethical brand looks like and how they have influenced business, one of the first places to look is a name that everyone is familiar with: Google. Google has implemented Google Green, which supports renewable power and uses resources more efficiently. This has led to a significant drop in power requirements for the Google data centers to the tune of 50%.
While not every company is as well-known as Google, that doesn’t mean that small things like offering telecommuting and installing energy-efficient lights can’t make a difference in demonstrating ethics and social responsibility in corporate governance.
Another major company that is blazing trails in the world of ethical branding is Target. As Redshift explains, “Since 1946, Target has been committing more and more effort and assets toward local and environmental support for the communities in which they have stores.” The company has stepped up their efforts in the last few years and 5% of profits now go to local communities.
These aren’t the only companies on the front lines of ethical business practices. Starbucks offers sustainably sourced coffee, while Patagonia uses organically grown cotton. H&M has committed to providing fully supply chain transparency and Dr. Pepper has added a social responsibility section to their website.
Maybe your company can’t hand out millions to charities and good causes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Supporting a cause helps you create employees who are proud to work for you and clients who are pleased to be involved with you. That can lead to financial gains beyond what you might believe.