Ethical Considerations When Choosing a Company
The retail trade is possibly one of the most scrutinised business sectors in the media when it comes to ethical considerations. Whether it’s issues surrounding fur coats or manufacturing ‘sweat shops’ operating overseas, ethical shopping is high up on the political agenda. Everybody holds different values in life and when considering your own in terms of the type of company you would and wouldn’t want to work for, your decisions will be based upon your own value judgements.
When choosing a retail company in which to work, there are three broad ethical considerations that you’re likely to want to take into consideration. These are:
- Animal welfare
- Human rights
- The environment
Animal WelfareAnimal welfare considerations in retail tend to be focused on issues such as the treatment of animals used in the production of goods that we buy as consumers and with regards to animal testing which goes on in the research and development of particular products.
For example, a vegetarian would be unlikely to want to work for a company that produces meat-based food items whilst another person might be prepared to do that but wouldn’t work for a shoe manufacturer that made shoes out of leather. Then there might be other people who might find both of these things perfectly acceptable yet would draw the line at working for a company which manufactured or sold fur coats. Likewise with animal testing, there may be some people who would refuse to work in a retail position within a cosmetics company if the company tested its products on animals.
Human RightsEthical issues on human rights when it comes to the retail trade tend to predominantly focus on things like manufacturing sweatshops overseas in the clothing sector where children are often exploited to work from a very young age or where adults earn a pittance. Other human rights issues concern discriminatory practices against women, certain races and even sexual orientation within the workplace. It’s important here to do your research if these issues are of importance to you.
Over recent years, most people have been accustomed to seeing the ‘Fair Trade’ label being applied to certain manufactured goods and immediately assume that the company selling them is ethically sound. However, it’s not quite as clear cut as that. For example, things bearing the Fair Trade label only indicate that they form part of a program designed to guarantee fair and stable prices, local sustainability and fair trade for farmers and agricultural workers in developing countries alongside guaranteeing decent and safe working conditions. However, a ‘Fair Trade’ item doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s organic or environmentally or eco-friendly nor can it always guarantee that the finished item wasn’t made under sweatshop conditions.
The EnvironmentEthical considerations here include things such as any growing or manufacturing processes which pollute or damage the environment or the use of genetically modified materials used in the manufacture of particular items.
Therefore, if you hold strong values about any of these issues, it’s important to do your research first before applying to any particular company to find out the kind of ethical values they hold (if any) so you can determine whether or not, these are at odds with the values which you hold dear to you.