We show some appreciation to our favourite brands who put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe in.
Sometimes businesses, afraid of losing customers or perhaps simply apathetic, choose not to express their views on a particular issue. Or, perhaps even worse, they’ll make a quick, often hypocritical, gesture and then continue as normal. We could give quite a few examples but that’s not our style.
What we want to focus on for this editorial are businesses who are the opposite of silent, faceless corporations and who aren’t afraid to stick up for something they believe in, even if it means losing certain customers. In short, brands who take stands.
Ben & Jerry’s
As well as everything else that’s happened in 2020, the world was outraged by the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneaoplis. In the aftermath, many brands, whether equipped to or not, posted something on social media in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, normally a black square. Ben and Jerry’s, on the other hand, went all out with a statement entitled “Silence Is Not An Option.” The tone and language used—“murder”, “inhumane police brutality”—went far beyond any other brand, but Ben & Jerry’s felt compelled to speak out and, further, had earned the right to. Why? Because they’d previously been outspoken supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, even dedicating an ice cream flavour called ‘Justice ReMix’d’.
We’re big fans of Ben & Jerry’s. Not only because of their ice cream, but because of their commitment to using their influence for good causes. In 2016, both their founders we arrested during a democracy protest in Washington DC—we don't think many companies can boast that—and they even hired a corporate activist manager. Also, they’re a B Corp like us :)
Ben & Jerry's social mission statement
Fashion is a notoriously murky industry so it’s nice when a company comes along who wants to change that. Renowned for being a company that wants to make fashion more transparent and sustainable, they take their environmental ethos extremely seriously. So seriously, in fact, that last year they ceased to make co-branded garments for companies that don’t share their mission. They were also very outspoken against the Trump administration—a risky manoeuvre considering his nature—and put resources towards suing its attack on public land in the US.
Screenshot of Patagonia's website in protest against the Trump administration
We look up to Patagonia and used elements of their approach in the creation of our own products, including the upcoming circular fashion line. They also recently took part in an Alt-COP26, a semi-protest against the cancellation of the UN climate conference, with the next company on our list.
BrewDog is an international beer company that began life in a garage in Scotland in 2008. The two founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, wanted to create a company that was the opposite of the huge brewing corporations dominating the market. Over the years there’s been friendly sparring with other beer companies, a few run-ins with regulatory bodies, and a lot of media attention.
Back in 2014 they made a beer called ‘My Name is Vladimir’ to protest against Putin’s anti-gay stance, and in 2019 another one called ‘Make Earth Great Again’ to protest against the US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Recently they are made a concerted, and public, stand against climate change. Their new motto: “Let’s ensure we have a planet to brew beer on”. Make sure to read/watch/listen to our #agoodcommunity interview with their co-founder and CEO James Watt—it’s a corker!
BrewDog's James and Martin at a company event
Agents of change, whether they like it or not
Businesses, whether they like or not, are agents of change, sometimes with vast resources at their disposal that can make a real difference if used properly. Perhaps not all have to be ‘activists’, certainly not on every issue, but it’s surprisingly rare to find businesses who go beyond being purely profit-making machines and try make a positive change in the world.
Maybe it’s naive to think that all businesses will recognise our urgent need for change and switch to more sustainable practices, ones that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for example.
As consumers, we can put pressure on corporations to behave better by leveraging the power of social media or ‘voting with wallets’ i.e. not buying from unethical businesses.
As employees, we can hold our employers accountable for unethical practices, as was the case with Facebook employees walkout over the company's decision not to remove Trump’s post regarding the Floyd protests.
Businesses can no longer be silent, faceless corporations who put profit ahead of everything else. It’s time to take a stand.
Do you have an opinion on this, perhaps you work for one of the above or for a business that's making the transition to becoming more sustainable? We'd love to hear from you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.