Tag Archives: ethics

The reasoning behind conscious consumption

The Twitterverse was recently asked “Morally, is it worse to get something from Amazon, or Harvey Norman?”

The question solicited many responses: some described the character of the CEOs, others mentioned the wages and taxes paid (or not paid) by each company, while yet other Twitter users cited the labour conditions experienced by workers at these companies.

These factors may or may not influence whether you buy from Harvey Norman or Amazon, but they aren’t issues that help to answer the moral question. As a matter of fact, the question whether to buy from Harvey Norman or Amazon arguably isn’t a moral one at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important that people ask themselves questions such as these, but this specific question is a not a moral one: rather, it is an ethical question, the answer to which is informed by your values.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, let me explain.

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‘Bullying’ clothing companies are asking struggling suppliers for discounts

Prominent Australian retailers been caught out again for “unsavoury” behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic – including asking for discounts and pushing back orders from struggling suppliers overseas.

Kmart has backflipped on its request for a 30 per cent discount it forced on its Bangladeshi suppliers, but is still enforcing tight turnarounds.

Mosaic Brands, which owns Crossroads, Millers, Noni B and more, has told its suppliers, also in Bangladesh, that it won’t be meeting some of its payments for eight months, according to the ABC.

Mosaic was called out early in the pandemic for its pushy sales techniques, peddling hand sanitiser and face masks to shoppers to capitalise on the panic-buying surge.

The behaviour is nothing short of bullying, business ethics expert Martijn Boersma said.

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Forced Organ Transplants: A Business and Human Rights Issue

In November I was part of a panel of experts that discussed forced organ transplants in the context of medical ethics, business and human rights implications, modern slavery obligations for Australian businesses, the United Nations’ human rights treaties and mechanisms, and Australia’s responsibility to protect and promote human rights.

Footage of this event held at New South Wales Parliament House can be found below. The section on Business and Human Rights starts at 55:00.

Radio Interview: Are You Supporting Slavery Without Knowing It?

An estimated 40 million people across the globe are modern slaves. This means they’re coerced into work, earn low wages or are being exploited. What do you know about the conditions that the coffee you drink or the clothes you wear were produced in? Two experts explain how we all need to up the ante to consider ourselves ethical consumers.

Associate Professor Justine Nolan, Human rights law at University of New South Wales

Dr Martijn Boersma, Lecturer in Industrial Relations & Business Ethics, University of Technology Sydney

This interview was aired on ABC Radio National, Life Matters with Hilary Harper.

How can a Bank Win a Sustainability Award While Funding a Coalmine?

Westpac was named the most sustainable company in the world in 2014, and the most sustainable bank in the world for the 10th time in 2017, an honour previously bestowed on ANZ six times in seven years.

Commonwealth Bank and NAB have likewise been recognised as the most sustainable business in Australia and a global industry leader in sustainability respectively.

Glossy sustainability reports with images of hands cradlings sprouting plants illustrate this carefully cultivated image of responsible corporate citizenship.

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Ethical Dilemmas in Modern Supply Chains

Modern supply chains are long, complex and global, making it harder for businesses to know who they’re really dealing with, and for consumers to feel confident they’re buying ethically. The negative consequences of that complexity can be as devastating as the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, which galvanised public opinion about the conditions under which our clothing is produced. Revelations about Australia’s food industry in a recent ABC Four Corners report show there are issues to be addressed at home too. So, the conversation has turned to the need to build responsible supply networks and the challenges in doing that. That’s the focus of the Sustainable Supply Network Initiative at UTS Business School and  this #think public lecture.

supply chain lecture UTS

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Supply Chains of Australian Fashion Retailers at Risk of Exploitation

supply chain protest
Protests against garment factory owners and their threats and intimidation of workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Sk Hasan Ali/Demotix/Corbis 

Australian fashion companies lack transparency around their supply chain or do not have full knowledge of where their raw materials are being sourced from, leaving workers including children at risk of exploitation, an audit has found.

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