We’ve always cared about ethics, but now it’s all about brand redemption

Posting date:04 Oct 2019

The tobacco, alcohol, gambling and fast-food industries have together carried a bad reputation for some time as prospective employees chose against working for companies that have ‘political or negative’ connotations.

But, as we approach 2020 it seems attitudes are evolving with professionals caring less about a company’s product and more about the good they are giving back to the community.

I ask every professional I meet about their ideal role - The industry, company and salary that they are looking for in a future employer and the three things they deem as 'non-negotiable'. The answers are often unanimous.

Primarily, its salary, location and the scope of the role in first place but what is cropping up and more and more in second, is ethics.

While ‘ethical companies’ have always been seen as most attractive to their prospective talent pool, it’s not so much the product or reputation of the company that now gets taken into consideration but rather, what they are doing to change it.

It’s no longer about Coca-Cola littering streets with empty bottles or supermarkets stocking palm-oil based products or tonnes of unnecessary plastic. 

Now employees are more concerned with what companies are doing to redeem themselves – the ocean hoovers pledged by Coca-Cola for instance and the likes of Iceland making a move away from Palm Oil.

Philip Morris International (PMI) is also on the list. Tobacco companies have always struggled with talent attraction with many professionals either anti-smoking or anti its effects but this is changing for the world’s largest tobacco company – valued at more than $175 million – as it launches an anti-smoking campaign with the slogan “The best choice any smoker can make is to quit cigarettes and nicotine altogether.”

PMI and Coca-Cola are just two examples of high-profile companies making the move to sustainable branding and it mirrors the evolving mindset of many professionals within my network.

While ethics have always been high on the agenda of professionals seeking a new career, what is fascinating is this move away from a hatred of ‘negative brands’ and a new focus on what they give back – the source of their products, the good they are bringing back into the community and how they use their power for good.

I’d love to hear your views on the move to what I like to call ‘redemption ethics’ – are you a professional looking for a company with an inspiring social impact or perhaps you work for an organisation working to promote it’s goodness?