Spiralgirl is sceptical of the ethical credentials of Starbucks and Nike, as recently highlighted.

I, too, am sceptical. The problems have been well documented, from No Logo to The Corporation.

However, it pays to recognise even small behavioural changes, especially when those small changes have big impacts. Spiralgirl mentions that Starbucks introduced a fair trade variety of coffee through their stores. I’ve already had my say about this. However, when Starbucks introduced fair trade coffee in this limited way, they became North America’s largest customer for fair trade coffee.

When you factor in continuity issues (that is the ability for small suppliers to provide a consistent supply of product) this is an important step, and should be recognised as such, with the appropriate sense of caution. Sure, 5% is only a small step, but it’s bigger than most companies Starbuck’s size are willing to take.

When Oxfam et. al recently released it’s Play Fair at the Olympics they steered away from making a fuss against Nike, because Nike, in fairness, have done more than most sportswear manufacturers to clean up their act. Nike, understandably, cried foul of campaigners who consistently single out Nike while a) ignoring the progress and steps that have been made and b) refuse to point the finger at the other, worse, manufacturers.

The sweatshop-free supply chain issue is far more complex than most campaigners realise – Nike opening up their supply chain to outside scrutiny is a huge step forward, as well as opening Nike up to significant competitive risk and should, IMO, be applauded.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that most corporations are shite, but, if a corporation takes steps in the right direction two things should happen – a) they should be recognised for the good work they are doing, and b) pressure should be continued to keep the changes coming and to ensure that they live up to their promises.

  • I agree that they should be given praise for moving in the right direction, and at least it is a step….But i have seen for example, many people heaping praise on Nike for the green shoe ( and basically saying that Nike are an ethical brand to wear now) But it seems that they are forgetting the sweatshop issue, and that is not resolved yet. Do you get what I mean??? Dont get me wrong, I think it is awesome that they are making a green shoe, and that is definatly the way to go, to consider the environment in all that we do, but I just hope that people dont forget the other issues involved…

    Nike has often been singled out becuase it is the largest and highest profile of the sweatshop companies. And if they make positive changes, the rest of the pack may follow suit….that is why there is a big focus on them as a company, and for years they have just thrown money and resources at covering up the problem, where it would have just been better to actually spend that time and money to fix the problem!

    And dont get me wrong Granty boy, I am delighted that Nike are making such changes that they will be moer open, thats fantastic! But Im just saying that I will resereve my celebrations for when that turns into life changing revolutions in the factories themselves……

    I agree that they should be recognised for these steps, the problem is that many people dont read the whole story, and will only remember the headlines ( if you get what I mean) Thats why greenwash works so well with most of society…..

    Im sure that we are actually agreeing here Grant, but lots of bloggy discussion has come from it, thanks for bringing up the topic…

    Spiral Girl

  • Some great points raised here Grant.

    I totally agree with your views.

    We can continue to be negative and harp on about the bad things or we can also balance it out and point out the good things that are being done by some of these corporations.

    Positive comments about a companies progress towards better policies is more likely to result in more good work being done. Negative comments will often only cause more hostility.

  • Im not sure if you guys think I am being negative about this, I dont mean it to come across that way!

    Im just being cautious, its different! 🙂

    love spiral girl

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