What does it mean to be a responsible brand?

A recent GWI report found that 51% of people surveyed wanted brands to put more focus into being more eco friendly, 44% wanted brands to treat their staff more fairly and 41% would like them to support social causes.

Consumers are waking up and demanding more from the brands they use. They want to know that the company they use treats their staff well, pays them a decent wage and has a robust progression policy in place. They want to know that the products they buy are ethically sourced, right from the raw materials up and they want to know if any of the profits from the business are used to fund good causes (or not!). In short, these days consumers want their brands ethical and responsible.
So what can you do as a brand to become a responsible brand?

Here are a 5 things you can look at in your brand/business to make you a more responsible brand:

Environmental Sustainability 
If you make products think about the raw materials you use to make those. If you buy in goods, research the environmental impact of those products. 
Look at the energy you use on a day to day basis, can you move to renewable energy? Can you cut car usage? Make cycling a better option for staff? All of these things can help you lower your carbon footprint and make you more sustainable.

Social Conscience
This is about engaging with social enterprises and philanthropy. Maybe you already donate a percentage of your profits to charity or maybe that’s something you could look at doing. You could also look at setting up a foundation within your industry to support disadvantaged people entering the industry. A lot of larger brands nominate a Charity of the Year each year and raise funds for them through staff and customer initiatives.

Management Structure
This one doesn’t always seem as obvious as the others but it’s equally important when you’re talking about employee practices. Who makes the decisions in your company? Are they all made by the CEO or do you empower all employees to feel like they can have a say in decision making? Do you have a clear succession plan and management structure that makes it clear how employees can rise through the ranks and what happens if the members of the senior management leave or retire?

Diversity and Inclusion
This is a must in all companies but especially one wanting to be a responsible brand. Do you have policies in place that make your workplace more inclusive for those with disabilities or families. Do you offer the same progression for women as men even if they have taken maternity/adoption leave to raise a family? Do you have policies to recruit from all backgrounds including people of colour and LGBTQ+ and not depending on age or gender? What could you do to make your workforce or customer base more diverse. Remember that to treat people equally you often have to treat people differently.

Community Engagement
This covers all communities, from your staff, to your customers to the wider community around you and your industry. Think about how you could serve them better, help them and positively engage with them. Maybe your brand makes and sells water bottles so perhaps you could sponsor a water pump in a developing country so more people have access to fresh drinking water. Maybe your local school needs work experience for the students there, or you can offer ongoing paid work experience to a college or university student. What about the community you serve? How do you make life better for them? Does your customer service need an overhaul or maybe your customer is your local community that you could thank by offering a fun day or open day?

Being responsible and ethical isn’t just about sourcing eco friendly products, it goes right to the heart of your business and everything you do. becoming a responsible brand