I have a colleague who is passionate about chocolate. But not just passionate about consuming it, but radically passionate about where he is consuming it from. I discovered this passion one day after giving him a Mars bar. For the next two days the bar sat unopened on his desk until he could determine without a shadow of a doubt that the cocoa beans were not purchased from plantations that involved child slavery. He could not, and the chocolate was politely returned to me. An interesting conversation followed about the horrific world of child-slavery and African cocoa beans.
The thought that our everyday choices could be impacting the world around us is unnerving. As a business owner I am out there creating products, in my case it is web products, whereas you might be creating products in an entirely different space. And from my perspective the thought that is even more unnerving is that we are relying on consumers to make the ethical decisions. Are we creating a product that is ethical? Or are we making a product that makes it really easy to be unethical? Like the tasty chocolate bars fuelling child slavery. (Not all chocolate bars are made from plantations using child-slavery and Mars Bar may not use child-slavery either).
Some people don’t care about this. I’ve heard the following statement just a couple weeks ago, “First make money, then care about making the world a better place.” I wrote another post on the 10 traits of a leader, which is a summary of a talk given by Dave Olson. One of the points is that you can look around a room and see the leaders by observing where the buck stops. Who is taking responsibility for the problems and doing something about them. That is the leader. When we create products we often avoid the awkward questions and pass the responsibility onto either the consumer or the factory managers? We have the ability to empower people to make good decisions by giving them good products. However, if we aren’t taking responsibility for our product lines then we aren’t being leaders.
With the web we have a huge opportunity to use technology to empower the individual to shape one’s own self. Let’s give people more of the good choices. Let’s be leaders.