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  • Beyond good intentions...

    Beyond good intentions...
    Those of you who have been following for a while (thank you!) will know that Aerende is not in the market of saying something for the sake of it. And this week there have been many people saying more important, constructive and heartfelt things about #blacklivesmatter than we ever could. 

    My personal instincts (as a human rather than a brand founder) to shout loudly in situations of injustice have often been soothed by Aerende’s quiet activism, one of the main aims of which has always been to challenge how commercial systems - those same ones that uphold white privilege and perpetuate inequality - normally work, by gently putting forward an alternative. And yet, good intentions don’t always stop harm from happening. Simply having a positive business model or saying that we’re listening and learning is not enough (no criticism here: I know it’s a start but that’s all it is). There’s not enough space here to list all of the things I’ve got wrong in trying to unlearn my own racism and bias, and how that may have played out inadvertently through this business. But there is just about space to encourage you to join us in embracing the unlearning of white supremacy.

    Disrupting a system happens in many ways. Yes, it begins with words, through asking questions and acknowledging that the way we spend money speaks volumes about what we value and why. But action must follow. We all need to understand how businesses (yes, all of them, not just the big ones) participate in a whole system of human justice. And by that, I mean that we can’t just look at the tip of the iceberg - the picture of a black influencer on Instagram or the ‘sustainable’ product that gets made at the end of the process, but we need to understand how everything in that process is interlinked, from who writes the algorithms that show us those Insta pictures, to the humans who grow or mine materials, to the chemicals and processes used to make them viable (and the people whose lives are affected by those processes), to the companies we use to move constituent parts or products around (so many little-known issues here, from staff exploitation to delivery companies lobbying hard to pay no tax), to the negative environmental impact of every word and picture we post on here. At every stage, there is an opportunity for a business to do better, or to go with the status quo/easy option. And that means Aerende too. 

    We get a lot of credit for doing things right (thanks to all those white people who run the awards and write the articles and for the network I’m part of that enables us to access them) but very few people ask questions about the things that matter beyond what you see on this feed. Questions about our business workings, how we are funded, how people get paid, how many people of colour there are in the business and all the things that feed into a wider, impactful (positive or negative) whole. So this is my request to you. Think about systems and who benefits and who doesn’t. Think about what lies behind that picture, that quote, that initiative, that product. Ask questions of your favourite brands and expect answers. Hold us accountable. We can all do better in our actions as well as our words. And the doing better should never stop. 


    Business ethics and accountability
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