This question could open a can of worms, and it would certainly take far more than 1,000 words to have any reasonable discussion on this topic. For this reason, I’d like to concentrate on just one area of ethics: ethical shopping.
I made an interesting observation recently that over 90% of my customers and Facebook followers are females. Whenever I visit an Oxfam shop, most shoppers are females. Where are the males? Could it possibly be our fault, that there’s simply not enough ethically produced products that appeal to our male counterparts? Or are women simply more ethical than men?
In Australia, Etiko and Eternal Creation have a limited selection of clothing and accessories for men. There are far more choices in the UK, then again over 90% of UK population recognises Fairtrade label, compared to just over 50% in Australia (according to Fairtrade Australia). I don’t know what’s the gender split of customers for these two businesses, but they certainly have far more female products than male products. Since they’ve been in business for a long time, I think we can reasonably assume that the demand for female fair trade products are far greater than those for male fair trade products.
Maybe it’s because women spend money on clothing and accessories while men spend money on gadgets and games?
While ethical fashion and fair trade are well known, ethical gadgets are less heard of. Fairphone, the world’s first ethical smartphone, is probably the only fair trade gadget that I have heard of. The Electronics Industry Trends report, released on Wednesday by Baptist World Aid, found that 97% of companies failed to pay factory workers enough to meet their basic needs.
If our male counterparts are really concerned about whether the people who made their gadgets are fairly paid, then they should demand change from the large companies, and more smaller players like Fairphone would see a market for their products. The lack of such development is a sign that businesses are not yet convinced of the size of this market, which in turn suggests that men might care more about functionality, brand and price than ethics behind the production of products.
I hope I am seeing the beginning of a movement. It took more than 50 years for fair trade to lose the “pity product” image. I hope the journey for ethical electronics will be an easier one. Perhaps we can play a bigger role in this movement, not only as consumers of electronic goods, but also as partners and friends who can educate and influence the purchase decisions of men. According to Money Smart Australia, we spent $9.5 billion a year on gadgets vs $5.1 billion a year on fashion. If we can push forward an ethical electronics movement, then many workers in the developing world will benefit.
p.s. we currently have a small range of fair trade products for men, and we will expand this product range in the near future to include clothing and accessories. Please click here.