I’m really sad the some business people continue to operate with blinders on. Notice that I said “sad” and not “surprised” although I wish that were the case. I was taught at a pretty young age that ignorance is no excuse for bad behavior – if you do wrong and break a law, even unknowingly, the bottom line is that you broke the law. The case I’m going to point to isn’t a “law” per se – it’s more of a moral dilemma. But I’ll put it out there and let you tell me.
Much has been made over the last few years about businesses profiting from the underhanded, unethical behavior of suppliers. Several clothing companies got into trouble with both consumers and the law over the slave wages paid to people (sometimes children) making their garments. The outcry forced the clothing companies to improve those conditions. The whole “Fair Trade” coffee movement is similar and came about because many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. To their credit, a number of coffee companies have agreed to join this program, which promises a reasonable minimum price for the coffee, and be “fair trade” certified. Fair trade also applies to other goods. I’m sure there are other examples.
Which is why I found this quote from a media buying executive disturbing:
Advertisers want big reach. They also love narrow targeting. These companies deliver both. So what if the contributors only earn about 10 bucks a story, as has been reported? “It’s not up to me to determine the morality of paying someone so little…I have to evaluate things strategically and ask, does this represent an opportunity for my brand?”
This has to do with the so-called “content farms” paying writers almost nothing to create content. You see, I think it IS up to you to decide if you want to do business with someone who is unethical. If you do, in my mind you’re perpetuating the same bad stuff that the other guy is doing. You’re giving them permission to continue to do so with your financial support. By the way, you’re also putting your clients at risk by associating their brands with this behavior.
So am I wrong? I realize that one person’s action, or one company’s, are probably not going to force change. But it’s a step, hopefully one that others follow. What do you think?