We should not work on unethical projects.
We define unethical as: "significantly harmful to either society, the environment, or the rights of the individual".
We assess engagements based on the likely overall impact of the project.
Where a company has done something unethical, and is spending on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to improve it's image:
- If the company has changed its ways, then great - that's to be encouraged.
- If the CSR spending is "green-washing" - ie. a bit of CSR done in order to support ongoing larger unethical activity: this is not OK.
To avoid representing our own biases, we look for objective independent assessments by outside parties. This gives more structure, credibility, and fairness to making these decisions.
Anyone can raise an issue with a company.
- Issues should be raised by putting together a proposal on why the engagement may be bad, and sending it to the board. Any staff member can do this.
- The ethical assessment process is then run by a senior staff member, who cannot be a sales-person.
- Ethical issues are evaluated using the document format shown here (but evolved over time).
- The case-against is driven by staff providing evidence (e.g. links to articles). A call for evidence should be circulated internally so that all staff have the opportunity to contribute.
- A draft ethical assessment is circulated internally -- first to the staff member who raised the issue, and then to a general channel -- before being presented to the Board for a final decision based on this policy. This is to allow anyone who feels that the case has not properly been put, to present it better.
- Previous assessments to be kept on record and used as non-binding examples, to help produce consistent policy.
- A company is not considered unethical if it is average or above for its sector, and the sector is not intrinsically harmful.
- As our main service is advertising, the marketing materials should be considered. Fraudulent or harmful marketing are grounds for considering a project unethical.
- A company's actions count for far more than it's intentions and PR statements. Intentions and PR statements should not be counted, except as backed up by actions or legally binding commitments.
- If working with a company is judged to be unethical, then the company will decline further work and minimise existing work, though the company does not have to renege on existing agreements.
- Our Environmental Policy
- Fair work: Our various staff policies and benefits.
- Outside accreditation:
Keywords: ethics, ethical, policy policies