Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Spending with a Conscience

11:33 AM By Barry Smyth No comments

The goal of any company be it large or small is to make a profit and/or to satisfy it’s shareholders and ensure that analysts confidence remains high in that companies ability regardless of market trends to continue to make a profit. And each year those same companies are challenged to make even more than the year before. It’s an never ending cycle.

Many companies have ethical and corporate social responsibility polices and work within those boundaries in the countries they operate. Indeed, it has to be said that many do good work in those same countries as a result.

But is it enough?

I would love to see a trend where companies put those ethical and corporate social responsibilities above all else. While we can sign petitions and write letters to our MP’s etc urging countries that blatantly violate human rights to rethink their policy’s it’s never going to have any real or lasting impact. Not really.

But imagine if a company decided that it would no longer allow its products to be sold in a country as a result of its poor track record in Human Rights. And now imagine if other companies decided to follow suit. Imagine if companies put the never ending drive to increase profits second to the broader picture.

Imagine if companies got together and formed a forum where they discussed and based on agreed criteria (which would take some trashing out I know) which countries they would no longer do business in, and that more and more companies joined that forum because “we” the consumer decided that “we” would only buy products from companies that put that ethical and corporate social responsibility first.

“We” as citizens of a global economy have a responsibility to ensure that our money is spent wisely. That it is not given to companies and corporations for the sole purpose of making a profit. That rather, every coin we spend is done so with the foresight of supporting this imaginary ethical and corporate social responsibility forum as though it was in fact real.

We are as guilty as anyone else of supporting human rights violations because we help to fuel the economy’s and companies that operate in those areas. Most times we look for bargains to get the most for our hard earned money, and no one can fault us for that. After all, money is not easily come by. And yet if that cheaper product is cheaper because its been made in a country that exploits child labour are we really doing the right thing?

As much as we shout out at politicians and those large corporates for them to do more we also have a part to play. And we often tend to forget, in the search for a bargain, that the power of our dollar and where we spend it will have a lot more impact than any protest or petition.

So, when you hear on the news more of those terrible stories of human rights violations and are outraged by them (as no doubt the majority of us will be), look to where you have spent your hard earned money and ask yourself the question … am I supporting that without even knowing it?

Each of us needs to make a decision on where we as individuals stand and what we stand for, and as much as we point the fingers at others to “do something” we also need to start doing something about it ourselves in one of the easiest ways possible, by spending with a conscience.

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” - Anna Lappe

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