Should you work with companies that conflict with your values?

World No Tobacco Day, a day to encourage people to quit smoking. The public collectively raises awareness of the dangers from using tobacco, and the business practices of tobacco companies. Many will define the concept as legal, but unethical. Smoking is the reason for 15% of global deaths and a large amount of money is wasted on smoking-related matters.

Now let’s say a cigarette company, like Marlboro, comes to you. Like any organization, you naturally might find yourself working with other organizations at some point. Whether it’s that you are approached by them as a potential client (B2B), or for a collaboration. But if you’re against smoking, do you still work with them?

This can apply to any other type of company that you don’t support. In this blog we briefly discuss this moral dilemma and give our opinion on what we think you should do when faced with such a situation.

Profits or principles?

Your organization’s brand image and reputation is the key source to measuring the success of your brand. After you build your brand, make sure to always nurture it. It doesn’t matter if you collaborate with them, or you provide them with products or services. Be your worst critic before anyone can call you out on your issues.

For instance, earlier this year, a few large clothing brands falsely accused China of harvesting a majority of its cotton through forced labour. The brands faced a lot of backlash from Chinese citizens, as in reality most of it was harvested through machinery. To keep it short, this conflict caused many Chinese organizations, celebrities, and e-commerce platforms to immediately cut ties with them. 

Even with no connection to a brand’s certain actions, simply working with them can look like you fully support them. Like in the example situation above, cutting ties as soon as possible can prevent further damage to the brand. But of course, it’s best to not start with those brands at all if there are too many risks. Additionally, in these situations it’s important that as an organization you don’t get blinded by easy profits. Principles come first, and profits will follow.

Public company values

It’s also crucial that an organization follows the core values that have already been made public. At Studio Erwin Sala we have our set of values as well, i.e. harmony and integrity, and we like to stay true to those.

You may quickly be criticized for not following your values. To your audience, it’ll look as if your values mean close to nothing to you. Like they’re just for show in order to gain approval from others.

Conclusion

So, once again, imagine a cigarette company approaching you for your products/services or a collaboration. Will you work with them? Will you accept the commission? Our answer is no. While this is an ethical issue, we’re convinced that an organization should stay true to itself. Don’t steer away from your corporate identity.

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