Ethical Business or just the `Green Wash’? by Suzy Miller


Coming off the sea at the end of Brighton Pier, and blasting its way through the air conditioning system of the Horatio Bar, a gale was blowing down the back of my neck. 

Despite this, sitting wrapped in my coat as if about to leave, I listened with great interest to the ‘ethical’ businesses who bravely gave their websites up for scrutiny at the ‘Striding Out – Ethical marketing and branding event’ held in Brighton, UK, at the end of February. It was a great event, but I do have a general gripe about these kind of sessions.

As an entrepreneur, I am frustrated by the lack of goody bags at these kind of events. Yes, we get the information and inspiration, but what exactly am I supposed to DO now? What can I take away that allows me to put this new found knowledge straight into action?

I believe one thing is to create an ethical sustainability policy for my business, but what I really want is to walk away from these kind of events with a template for creating my own, with links to appropriate help if I need it (even if that means paying for that help).

I was inspired by Sam Wilson of EcoEvents who has done so much homework in creating ways for events to be more ethically run, but also (and just as importantly) defined systems and mechanisms for measuring the successes and failures, and making the organisers of the events accountable.

And if businesses want to not just be part of the `Green Wash’, they should be accountable, at least to themselves.

What is the point of me creating a sustainability policy if my vision is not balanced by my commitment to achieving deadlines? And buffeted by the realities of every day life, will I not need to make constant revisions for my ethical goals to still be attainable?

I spoke recently with Vania Phitidis, an elected member of the Green Party , who is working with Wealden District Council on awards for `green’ businesses. Vania is keen to give advice and encouragement. Businesses should not be shy to make use of their local green MPs to get feedback and advice.

Getting expert guidance would be even better, but that costs money, and sometimes I think it is good to make the first steps on your own, since it is your own passion and commitment that will lie at the heart of any ‘policy’, and that may need some uninhibited development first.

To read the rest of the article, check out the Spring Issue of WE Magazine for Women – A Tribute to Mother Nature .