Thursday, March 5, 2015

Consciousness & Economics IV: Ethical Consumers

We see signs that people are starting to realize the potential of conscious economic collaboration with the sharing economy, democratic or cooperative companies, and the world of collaborative social apps.
Consumer behavior and investment preferences have begun to shift–and that shift is accelerating. We see pressure on companies for fair trade, safe and child-free labor, and greener practices. Where companies fail to do this, social media is proving a formidable force for awareness: the beginning of change. 
Case in point: international tobacco industry and the #jeffwecan campaign (warning: offensive language and even more offensive business practices portrayed); the recent net neutrality ruling in the US, pressured by petitions that crashed the servers of the FCC; and the growing, global campaign to #divest from companies related to polluting energy companies. 
A recent editorial on EnergyBiz argues that staying in tune with the changing moral compass can be a matter of survival for companies, which need to maintain trust and respect of their customers - something the energy industry has not had a stellar record doing in the last decades.
As more aware consumers see the ramifications of where and how they spend their money, the energy and other industries are facing a new generation which has ethical expectations of the companies from which they purchase products and services. 
This awareness is spreading to where they work, where they live and where they save or invest money. Students are leading the charge by pressuring the funds of their universities to invest in a way that is more coherent with scientific and ethical principles.   
Dissatisfaction with the financial sector and its corrupting influence on politics has been rampant since the global crises erupted in 2008 with large protests in several countries, but few seem willing or able to articulate the spiritual or consciential roots of the crises. In our Portuguese-language blog, we covered one notable exception: a former finance minister and professor of economics who posited that consciousness was the root level of the economy, and that, hence, mid- and long-term improvements must start there (Google Translator).
What other signs of rising ethical standards and its influence in economics have you seen? 

Nelson Abreu, Los Angeles 

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