Posts

Lucy Findlay

A new year’s resolution that you can stick to

I am sure many of you have recently set new resolutions for the year ahead, be they personal goals (e.g. eating healthier or exercising more) or a commitment to make changes on a wider scale (e.g. using less plastic, getting involved in volunteering). However, how many of us actually stick to our resolutions for the whole year (and beyond)??

Perhaps then we should focus more on long term permanent changes to our behaviour, rather than short term ‘fads’ that we are likely to give up on at some point. Given that 2017 saw continued growth in sales of ethical products (up for the 14th year in a row), this gives me hope that perhaps more people will start to focus on their consumption habits and consider the impact of these on the wider world. An easy start would be pledging your commitment to supporting a growing movement of businesses serious about creating positive change.

We launched our Beyond the Badge campaign last year, to help consumers and organisations do good business, by looking out for credible independent labels as proof that a business is living up to its claims, therefore enabling them to make more informed choices.

Beyond the Badge campaign partnersTeaming up with a diverse group of fellow standard-setting bodies that share common values and principles in our approach to accreditation, we aimed to engage consumers with independent standards/labels and educate them on how these can help them to identify businesses that are serious about doing good.

We were excited to recently welcome Investors in People, the standard for people management, as a campaign partner, and would be keen to hear from other organisations interested in getting involved.

Despite the reported increase in ethical consumerism, we are conscious that there is still work to be done in promoting this message on a wider scale, to encourage everyone (both consumers and businesses) to consider the impact of their purchase decisions. This is why we are continuing the campaign into 2018 and I encourage you all to ‘Go Beyond the Badge’ this year, and look out for credible independent labels that actually mean something.

Independent third-party standards play an important role in providing an external endorsement of claims made by businesses – that is, they help consumers know that they can trust a business is committed to doing good. This year, it is one of our own resolutions to push this message into the mainstream, and encourage consumers and businesses across different sectors to use such standards and labels to be sure they are buying from a company they can trust.

I invite you all to commit to a New Year’s resolution you can stick to – you can start by signing the campaign pledge (below) and spreading the word to your contacts.

Beyond the Badge pledge

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*We will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.

 

Investors in People

Investors in People join Beyond the Badge campaign

We are delighted to welcome Investors in People as a partner in the Beyond the Badge campaign, which aims to make it easier for consumers to identify businesses that are proven to be doing good.

Investors in People (IIP) is the Standard for people management. The IIP framework sets out how to lead, support and develop people well for sustainable results. The IIP standard is the sign of a great employer, and an organisation committed to achieving success through realising the potential of its people.

Investors in People (IIP) sets out how to lead, manage and support people well for sustainable results. IIP accreditation is the sign of a great employer and an organisation committed to achieving success through realising the potential of its people.

Commenting on the partnership, Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People said “We are passionate about backing the #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign because a badge is more than just a stamp. Investors in People signifies a good employer, it represents a workplace where every individual has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Investors in People is proud to support the #GoBeyondTheBadge movement, upholding the importance of businesses commitment to making a change and succeeding at it.”

In 2017, IIP was established as a Community Interest Company, and is committed to shaping a working world where employers, employees and the community succeed by understanding the value of investing in people. By working for individuals, employers and the wider community, IIP provides a structure for employers to measure and improve, promoting fair working conditions for individuals whilst also highlighting excellence in people management across communities.

IIP joins a group of standard setting bodies that share common values and principles in their approach to accreditation. Each organisation is responsible for an independent accreditation/certification scheme, and we are all united by a common focus of setting and overseeing robust, credible and transparent standards for businesses. Click here to find out more about our campaign partners.

 

#GoBeyondTheBadge

Helping consumers and businesses to do good business

Beyond the Badge campaign partnersWith research showing that public trust in business is declining, we have teamed up with other independent Standard Bodies that set and assess genuine and transparent standards that help consumers cut through the barrage of branding and use their purchasing power for good.

We are calling on consumers to go ‘Beyond the Badge’ and look out for credible independent labels as proof that a business is living up to its claims.

By supporting our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign, consumers and businesses can stand up for:

  • a growing movement of businesses serious about making change for good and proud to prove it
  • the values and standards that are managed by an independent standards body with real expertise in their sector

We are proud to be working with a group of standard setting bodies that share common values and principles in our approach to accreditation. Each organisation is responsible for an independent accreditation/certification scheme. We are united by a common focus of setting and overseeing robust, credible and transparent standards for businesses. These cover a range of industries, from food and drink to construction! Click here to find out more about our campaign partners.


Beyond the Badge pledge

**your signature**

Share this with your friends:

   


*We will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.

Lucy Findlay

The rise of ethical consumerism: considering the impact of purchase decisions

Although it is heartening to see that consumers are increasingly looking at sustainability and ethical issues in their purchasing decisions, as evidenced by a recent international study by Unilever, I do worry about whether they are actually able to make an informed decision.  The proliferation of ‘greenwashing’ does mask and make buying decisions more confusing.

Greenwashing is the corporate practice of using clever PR and marketing claims to mislead customers into thinking a company and its products are ethical/sustainable/environmentally friendly etc. Sadly, the rise in consumer interest in sustainability and ethics seems to be marked by the rise of this tactic by big corporate brands.

This is a smoke screen for their anti-social behaviour, as has been evidenced time and again in the hypocrisy of the banking world.  I will never forget, on the passing of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, being lectured about what to do to add social value by a big name High Street bank, whose Chief Executive the week before had been apologising for yet another expose leading to huge fines by the regulator.

Another very high profile example is the Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal in 2015, where the organisation admitted fitting cars with software designed to give false readings in emissions tests. This served as a public reminder of the need to be vigilant for misleading messages – if a multinational giant that was once considered a leader in sustainability was deliberately deceiving customers, then it poses the question – who else is up to this dodgy practice??

Unfortunately, greenwashing isn’t always easy to spot, especially where there is an existing high level of consumer trust within a brand. Even where there isn’t trust, many consumers take claims at face value and do not question other behaviours of that company – people have short memories! There are so many ethical labels and claims used by brands to entice customers to buy their products, so where to start for consumers when it comes to knowing who they can trust?

This is the focus of our latest campaign – Beyond the Badge – which aims to help consumers identify genuine labels and claims, and therefore make more informed choices, rather than taking things at face value.  For instance if a product claims to be ‘fairtrade’ – did you realise that it is only certified as such if it displays the FairTrade Mark?

We are pleased to have the support of several high-profile partners, including Soil Association Certification and Ethical Consumer, to engage with a wider consumer audience across multiple sectors.

In our research , I was interested to come across the UL Environment ‘Seven sins of greenwashing’, which identifies seven of the most common greenwashing tactics used by big brands. Interestingly, these include ‘the sin of no proof’ – where a claim is not substantiated with any reliable proof – and ‘the sin of worshipping false labels’ – where the impression is given of a third-party endorsement, where no such thing exists.

To me, these seem particularly relevant to the markets in which we operate, as from its inception, social enterprise has been plagued with vagueness and moving the goal posts.  The advent of social impact reporting and social investment have not helped this cause as they do not support the uniqueness of the social enterprise business model – essentially that by putting people and planet before shareholder profit the business is focused on the social/environmental need that it aims to address.  It may be hard to prove – but the social outcomes are central, not a by-product.  Hence the Social Enterprise Mark – a way of assessing and identifying genuine social enterprises that have a proven commitment to trading for the benefit of people and planet.

We want to encourage everyone to consider the potential impact of their purchase decisions, and to think about whether brands that they support are actually living up to their ethical and sustainability claims. I invite you to get involved, by pledging your support to the campaign and spreading the word amongst your own networks, by joining our Thunderclap campaign, which will send an automated social media post out from your account to create a buzz of conversation about the campaign.

#GoBeyondTheBadge

Challenging consumers to look ‘beyond the badge’

Social Enterprise Mark CIC has partnered with several well-respected standard setting and accreditation bodies to encourage consumers to challenge ethical labels and sustainability claims that are used by brands they buy from.

With recent studies* suggesting that sustainability issues are playing an increasing role in consumer purchase decisions, the new campaign aims to educate consumers about ways they can identify genuine labels and claims, and therefore make more informed choices. Working with fellow accreditation bodies Golf Environment Organization, Living Wage Foundation, Soil Association Certification and TrustMark, and also Ethical Consumer, a key player in the ethical consumer movement, Social Enterprise Mark CIC hopes to get consumers thinking more about the labels and badges that appear on the products they buy, and to find out what they actually mean.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC explains the motives behind the campaign: “With the practice of greenwashing now commonplace in consumer markets, we feel it is really important for consumers to challenge what brands are telling them and not just accept their claims at face value.”

“That is why we have developed this campaign – to educate and support consumers to question the validity of ethical claims, to enable them to identify those that actually have some substance. We are pleased to have the support of several high-profile partners, to engage with a wider consumer audience across multiple sectors.”

Director of Ethical Consumer Tim Hunt, explains their reasons for getting involved: “We are pleased to support the ‘Beyond the Badge’ campaign, as a timely reminder of the need to question the real meaning behind the logos, symbols and standards on the products we buy. As time-poor consumers we often rely on what companies tell us, as to how sustainable and ethical a product or service is. In a ‘greenwash-rich’ world we very much encourage shoppers to ask tough questions of producers and retailers, to ensure they reflect our values and are deserving of our custom.”

The campaign calls on consumers to look ‘beyond the badge’, to find out more about ethical claims, and to look for any evidence or proof to support such claims. Social Enterprise Mark CIC has put together some useful tips to support consumers to cut through the “greenwash” to identify genuine labels and claims. One way that is suggested is to look out for a symbol of accreditation, which has been independently assessed and awarded by a third party. Social Enterprise Mark CIC and the campaign partners believe that accreditation and certification is vital in engendering consumer trust in brands, as it provides visible proof of an organisations sustainability credentials.

As explained by Clare McDermott, Business Development Director of Soil Association Certification, “Trust is a major issue for consumers; our research last summer found this to be the biggest influencer on purchasing behaviour and accreditation and certification is the best way to guarantee trust and reassure people.  We’re really pleased to be supporting Beyond the Badge the campaign as the UK’s leading organic and ethical certification body, to help make sure people know what they are buying and to expose greenwashing and false claims.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Libi Newell, Communications Manager at Golf Environment Organization “Credibility should be at the centre of any meaningful standard and certification system. That has been the case with GEO Certified® from the very start; it’s transparency and independent verification has been instrumental in it becoming a trusted mark with a strong reputation. Because of this it provides value to golf clubs, and the golf industry demonstrating real commitment and positive impact. We are pleased to be involved with this campaign, to promote credible certification and support consumers to make informed purchase decisions, and to know they are buying from businesses they can trust.”

Social Enterprise Mark CIC and the campaign partners urge consumers to pledge their support to the campaign, and to get involved by spreading the word on social media. There is also a Thunderclap that people can join, where a message will be posted at the same time from hundreds of social media accounts, to create a buzz of conversation about our new scheme.

People are also encouraged to keep an eye out for examples of greenwashing and to share these on social media, using the campaign hashtag #GoBeyondTheBadge. Full information can be found at www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/beyond-the-badge/

 


* Unilever study of 20,000 adults from five countries revealed one third (33%) of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. The study asked how sustainability concerns impact choices in-store and at home. Crucially, it then mapped their claims against real purchase decisions, giving a more accurate picture than ever of what people are buying – and why.