The Top Ethical Business Trends of 2021: How Companies are Prioritizing Sustainability and Social Responsibility
The year 2020 served as a catalyst for social progress and heightened awareness around ethical business practices. Consumers and employees are increasingly demanding that companies go beyond profit and prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. In 2021, businesses that embrace these trends will not only do well, but also do good.
1. Sustainable Supply Chain Strategies
As the effects of climate change intensify, companies are under increased pressure to reduce their carbon footprint. One way to accomplish this is by implementing sustainable supply chain strategies. This involves evaluating every step of the supply chain and finding ways to reduce waste, minimize emissions and optimize efficiency.
For example, clothing company Patagonia has one of the most environmentally-friendly supply chains in the fashion industry. They use organic cotton, recycled polyester, and minimize waste by repurposing excess materials and producing garments that can be easily repaired.
2. Increasing Diversity & Inclusion
The events of 2020 highlighted the systemic racism that still exists in many companies and industries. As a result, many businesses are increasing their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. This includes hiring diversely, training employees on unconscious bias, and creating an inclusive workplace culture.
Google, for instance, has launched several initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in their workforce. They have pledged $300 million to support underrepresented groups and have set ambitious goals to increase the representation of Black and Latinx employees.
3. Ethical Use of Technology
For companies that rely on technology, ethical considerations are becoming increasingly important. These include privacy concerns, data security, and responsible use of artificial intelligence.
Microsoft has committed to making their AI offerings more transparent and accountable through responsible AI principles. They have also pledged to uphold privacy standards and provide tools that enable users to control their data.
4. Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a buzzword in recent years. It refers to a company’s efforts to make a positive impact on society and the environment beyond its core business operations. This can involve charitable giving, community involvement, and initiatives to reduce environmental impact.
One example of a company with strong CSR practices is Ben & Jerry’s. They have a long history of supporting social and environmental causes, such as the fight for marriage equality and climate justice.
5. Embracing a Circular Economy
The circular economy is a model that aims to eliminate waste by keeping resources in use for as long as possible. In contrast to the traditional linear economy, where resources are extracted, used, and discarded, the circular economy aims to close the loop and create a more sustainable system.
IKEA has embraced the circular economy by investing in sustainability initiatives and exploring ways to repurpose and recycle materials. They have committed to make all their products from renewable or recycled materials by 2030.
The top ethical business trends of 2021 are all about taking responsibility for social and environmental impact. By adopting sustainable supply chain strategies, promoting diversity and inclusion, adhering to ethical principles in technology use, embracing a circular economy, and engaging in corporate social responsibility, companies can lead the way in ethical business practices. The result will be not only a positive impact on society and the environment, but also increased loyalty and profitability from both customers and employees.