June 14


What to do when ethics start taking a backseat in your company

By Rhys Herbert

June 14, 2018

What to do when ethics start taking a backseat in your company

Every brand that makes a commitment to ethics will face challenges at some point. It’s inevitable. What’s important is being able to realise when ethical, sustainable practices are taking a backseat in favour of something else.

Today, we’re going to stop, reflect and reverse those harmful changes. Read on to get back on track with doing good for the planet.

1. Stop and reflect

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your zero-plastic policy has softened, and plastic cups have made their way back into the office kitchen. Or maybe the recycling bin is getting emptied into a general waste unit. Now is the time to sit down and reflect on what’s going wrong.

Write a list of all the ethical, sustainable practices you once put into place. How many are being upheld? Which are being ignored? Compile a document with the areas that need addressing.

Next, speak to those responsible for upholding the practices. If it’s a wider, cultural change, this could be the whole company, so arrange a meeting in that case. Make it a non-judgmental chat and don’t ascribe blame. Ask if there is something getting in the way of them completing their task. It could be as simple as time restraints, or it might be that projects require more funding or people-power.

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Look for a common thread among the problem areas. Are individuals cutting corners to make clients happy? Is profit overriding ethics? This is the most important step of the process — finding the underlying cause. If your staff are making unethical decisions because they think senior management prioritise profit — to the detriment of people and the planet — it’s time to make a drastic change.

If there is a serious issue at hand, you need to step back and start again. We’re happy to help you get back on an ethical, sustainable path. Drop us a line and we can help.

But if you’re happy that the issue is not so deep-rooted, it’s time to create a new plan of action.

2. Refresh your set of ethical guidelines

The ethical principles you once abided by may now be out of date. The world moves quickly, so a lack of discipline could mean you and your staff get left behind.

Think about what’s changed in society since you last looked at your business’s ethics. Has there been a change in what can or can’t be recycled? A change in the preferred pronouns for certain groups of people?

It might be that your business lost momentum and ended up throwing in the towel in light of worldwide change. Now is the time to get back on the horse. Don’t beat yourself up if that’s the case — it’s tough.

Now you’ve acknowledged the problem, keeping up to speed with society’s changes will ensure your brand remains modern and progressive. It takes courage and a strong ego to admit you made a mistake. But your brand will thrive in the long run if you’re willing to confront your problems.

3. Go for the low-hanging fruit and build from there

Once you’ve identified the problem areas, start taking action. With your list of ethical practices (from step one) start small and work your way up. Go for the easiest tasks and get your staff to help complete them. Once you bring the feeling of positive change back to the workplace, it’ll make the big stuff more manageable.

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Celebrate your small victories and incentivise them. Make sure your staff know that ethics is as important as profit, and drive home the importance of the Triple Bottom Line.

Collaboration is key to building an ethical brand. Conscious Creatives exists today because we’ve listened, learned and renewed our policies time and time again. Get in touch to see how we could help your company become a force for good — for years to come.

About the Author

Rhys is Conscious Creatives' resident writer and photographer. His work has been published in various online publications, and he was recently chosen to update a bestselling book on SEO. He continues to seek new and interesting angles for his photography work, shooting his local streets on 35mm film.

Rhys Herbert

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