There are lots of distractions. There are lots of seductive reasons why the easy option often seems better too. Doing business ethically can seem like sailing constantly into a storm.
Working honestly, responsibly and sustainably is challenged routinely by those who feel threatened by these values; and by those who just don’t care. One of their chief weapons is to destroy trust, but it’s not always easy to recognise.
For example, there’s a myth that environmentally responsible business can’t be profitable. This isn’t true. We know, because every day we prove we can be profitable and eco-friendly. The sceptics point to ‘sustainable’ businesses going to the wall, conveniently forgetting the polluting businesses that fail too.
Amongst all this, it’s hard to know who to trust. Our customers describe this, and our supply chain partners fight it too. Lack of trust is corrosive. The fear that we might not be able to trust another person, or their business, means that we are constantly trying to second guess motives, constantly trying to decide if a promise will be kept – and what we’re going to do if it’s broken.
Never before has business so urgently needed to ground itself in trust. With trust we can co-operate; with trust we can see what’s happening. Then we can make rational choices, be consistent and achieve long term benefits.
Trust has been visualised as concentric circles describing relationships. With yourself at the centre, the next circle is family, then organisation, market and, finally, society. The closer to the centre, the greater the levels of trust.
For trust to be meaningful in business, a similar hierarchy, set out recently by Christopher James at ENTATEC in Brisbane, Australia, applies to priorities and values.
At the heart is capability, competence and talent. Next comes integrity – the first qualities don’t work without it and at the heart of integrity is doing the right thing because it’s right, not because for a pat on the back. Following on are openness and acceptance, between people and between businesses. The fourth level is benevolence – caring about the interests of others and acting upon it. Finally come vision and action, where those of the individual align with those of the business and community.
At the heart of our vision is a passion about providing sustainable alternatives to traditional businesses, and providing promotional gifts that contribute to building a better future for all of us and our planet.
Our ethical production and sustainably sourced goods are genuine. We’re transparent about our manufacturing methods and supply chains. But making a promise and saying it’s true isn’t always enough. To back up what we say – to build trust and legitimacy – we are totally transparent. We voluntarily share any and all certifications and guarantees that are required to show our promises are real.
We want all our partners to enter the circle of trust, do the same and live these values – join us in making the world better, step by step. Join us in the Circle of Trust.