22Feb What is Ethical?

This excellent post comes from Monica Stephenson of Anza Gems and we wanted to make sure that it was given the widest possible audience. Please read on...

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately, just coming back from Tucson and the inaugural Ethical Gem Fair. Also because celebrities have come under fire recently for declaring they are wearing “ethical” brands. I see this word used A LOT, along with “responsible” “sustainable” and even, unfortunately, “mindfully sourced”. This is often with no explanation or further discussion about why a brand is ethical, responsible, sustainable. (I’m not going to even talk about mindfully, if you believe mindfully means something, sorry, you’re on your own.) This is not about ranking brands as more sustainable, or actually deserving of the word ethical. This is about defining that what you are doing is actually ethical, and then communicating it to your customer. I personally have a hard time with using "Ethical,” because to me, it is a very powerful word. It has teeth, maybe fangs. You better be prepared to back it up. There should be EVIDENCE.

Also, ethical and responsible can take different forms. If you employ at-risk women, pay a better-than-average wage, use local US labor, YES you should call those things out! That is responsibility! And responsibility doesn’t just apply to material sourcing.

So let’s choose our words carefully. BE SPECIFIC and define concisely WHY you can claim a specific term.

I say that my brand (Anza Gems) is “responsible” because we buy our gems from vetted dealers in Kenya and Tanzania, we can verify this origin to export, we have them faceted by US artisan gem cutters, and we give back 10% of sales to mining communities through initiatives that involve education at the primary or trade level.

I can say that Moyo Gems are ethical, as they trace back to individual miners who dug them out of the ground, give the miner an exponential price compared to traditional broker relationships, and our program empowers women miners through education about gemology and occupational health and safety.

So, if you are going to claim something, CHOOSE your words carefully; follow up with a concise statement of WHY you can claim that; and make sure you can BACK THAT UP.

Let’s keep each other honest so that these words mean something.

[Reproduced with permission from Monica Stephenson, Anza Gems]

You can find more from Monica on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/idazzle/

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