by Brooke Harrison
As consumers, we have enormous power to help shape the future.
With every swipe of your credit card, we are saying “this is what I want to see more of in the world”. A purchase is the reason a company can continue to exist and grow — it funds practices somewhere on a scale between exploitation or empowerment, depending on that company’s approach.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting workers, consumers, and communities all over the world, the impact of a company’s ethics is now more visible than ever. Read on for the reasons why we believe that there’s never been a better time to support ethical businesses.
Sustain safe and ethical jobs for workers
Ethical businesses put care and integrity into creating their “supply chain” — aka the chain of businesses and workers that help them create a product. In an ethical supply chain, the people involved are paid a living wage in safe conditions and have benefits like sick leave and health care for themselves and their families. These workers are paid regularly, not at the whim of a boss who is waiting for a customer to pay up.
The flipside is a supply chain with poorly paid workers, some of them working in shadow factories which range from unsafe to downright dangerous. Workers are vulnerable to harassment and often are not paid on a regular schedule (or not at all, as is happening right now in Dhaka).
In fast fashion, supply chains are often fragmented, and there’s a disconnect between the brand and the people who make their products. These jobs are the most vulnerable in times of economic hardship or public health crises, where these brands will cancel orders even when they’ve been partially or fully produced. A “don’t know don’t care” attitude is easier to have when there’s no real connection to the people affected.
Ethical businesses know their makers, from the fabric weavers to the sewers and packaging suppliers. In times like these, we know how people in our supply chain are being affected and can make plans with our partners that work for everyone — whether that’s a temporary delay on orders or a health plan for at-risk workers while they continue producing.
Vote with your dollars for the future you want
The economy has been shut down, the planet is being given a chance to breathe, and we all have a LOT of time for self-reflection. What is the future we want to re-build when the pandemic restrictions ease and life goes back to normal?
As mentioned in the beginning of this blog, supporting ethical businesses now is critical in ensuring they are still around when the pandemic is over. A purchase you make now could have the power to keep a company afloat during these difficult times. Use your time at home to do some quick (and fun) research on ethical fashion brands, or shoot an email to your favourite local retail shop asking if you can purchase online or pick up curbside.
This crisis will cause some businesses to have to close, no doubt. Helping to make sure that your favourite businesses are still around after the pandemic is simple — buy their products.
How to show ethical businesses your support?
First off, the best way to support a business you believe in is to buy their product or service. But what if you don’t need anything at the moment and still want to support them?
One option is to buy a gift card for the future — this gives you the option to browse their site and dream up beautiful outfits while you’re still deciding on what you want to purchase. Or maybe you’re missing a loved one or your BFF? Why not show them some love by sending them a gift card? This is a great way to connect with people and show you’re thinking of them.
Another way of supporting a business you believe in is to share them with your network! Take to social media to tell your community why you love this business, and why you want to see them alive and thriving. These are hard times for any business, a vote of confidence from you could be the little bit of inspiration that’s needed to keep going.