Marketers should be clear and specific about what ethical means for their business, a new report from CIM argues.
Apple’s tax practices and the discovery by the BBC of poor conditions in Chinese factories making Apple parts seem at odds with its stated value that “we expect to make this world a better place to live.” Pret a Manger seemed to undermine its stated aims when it considered, then reversed, a plan to sell a stake in its business to McDonald’s. This wasn’t illegal or even immoral, it just didn’t seem visibly ethical and in line with its goal to produce local, handmade food.
So how to be visibly ethical? Many argue that the law does not demand enough of marketers. Legal compliance is a minimum; being visibly and consistently ethical requires much more. Marketers should also be clear about what ethics actually mean for their business. Broad assertions around “integrity” won’t be enough. Tangible ethics must be visibly owned by the business’s leaders and everyone delivering the offer to consumers. And how this is being done must be consistently applied. And it should be communicated frequently. The CIM report suggests that if the organisation doesn’t think all this is worth doing, then it is not an ethical brand. Telling the story of how your visibly ethical behaviours are making a difference internally and externally will be powerful too. And if all that can be measured by an external, respected body, then the organisation is both authentically and visibly ethical.