What is an ‘ethical’ business? 

The idea of running an ‘ethical business’ is not new, however its popularity is growing in societies around the globe. 
But How can businesses be ‘ethical’?

As Paul Allen States in his book, ‘Your Ethical Business,’ “Ethically minded companies treat others well, look after their own staff, try not to harm the world we live in and selflessly give something back to society. They are the antithesis of unscrupulous corporate greed.” 

Here are some overarching ethical principals for businesses:


Any business that has a the Fair Trade label in its products is ethical. This is simply the best way for a business to show that it cares. Fairtrade Foundation is a UK company whose standards are recognised internationally. They ensure that a business carries out the Fairtrade principals at all stages of the production of a product. 


Offsetting is when a business pays a specialist company to work out all forms of emissions the business may create whist producing and providing a product. The company then uses this money to give back to the environment, in turn, reducing the business’s carbon footprint. They plant woodlands and run renewable energy projects. Ultimately, businesses have a choice about how much they reduce their emissions in the first place. With this is mind, one could question ‘is this business really ethical if they a producing X amount of emissions and putting X amount of money back into the environment?’ Although these ratios have no restrictions, a truly ethical business who reduce their emissions first and then use the offset option


Offices are huge culprits of paper waste. Ethical businesses would consider their paper intake, using electronic alternatives when possible and like wise being conscious of energy efficient initiatives. Recycling paper, using recycled stationary, using Eco-friendly cleaning products, turning off lights and electronic devices, using energy efficient light bulbs are all examples of this. Additionally, ethical businesses can choose ethical services such as banks that refuse working with companies that participate in armaments, animal testing, cosmetics, nuclear power, tobacco or lack of human rights, and insurance companies that support sustainable practises. 


Truly ethical businesses practise what they preach. There is no use providing an ‘ethical’ product if it is not manufactured ethically and there is no use manufacturing a product ‘ethically’ if it is not an ethical product. For example, would you consider a cotton t-shirt brand to be a responsible corporate citizen if they have their produce made on farms that use large amounts of chemicals and pesticides which damage the earth and pollute waters? Would you consider a natural fibre clothing label to be a responsible corporate citizen if they use sweatshops and child labour when they are manufactured? Authentic, ethical businesses simply do not contradict themselves. Likewise, responsible corporate citizens require the entire flow of materials through the supply chain to be ethical. 

In my opinion, businesses who encompass a wide range of ethical practices and are continually trying to evolve with sustainable innovations are the ones worth investing in. Do you regard any particular businesses as authentically ethical? 

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