How Retailers Can Give Back and Change the World

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By Published On: May 27, 20240 Comments

Jeremy Meltzer, CEO and Founder of i=Change shares how retailers can tell a bigger story through giving back, a movement that can start with a conversation.

Powered by i=Change, the tech platform that bridges worlds between businesses and NGOs, Australian retailers Camilla, Carla Zampatti, ModiBodi, Ginger & Smart, Bec & Bridge and 400 others have as of last week, – $1 at a time – reached $10 million raised and counting, impacting the lives of over two million people both on a global scale, and closer to home here in Australia.

Power Retail spoke to the founder and CEO of i=Change, Jeremy Meltzer to find out how retailers can tell a bigger story beyond product and promotion, how diversity can transform cultural structures both in the workplace and wider world, and how businesses fit into conversations about inequality.

Retailers, with their wide reach and influence, can have a transformative power on the lives of vulnerable communities across the globe.

“At i=Change we make it that simple for retailers to give back and to tell a bigger story beyond product and promotion, effectively moving the industry to towards product and purpose,” Jeremy told Power Retail.

I think it reflects this time when we’re not all just shopping discounts. We’ve actually pulled back from our spending and when we do spend, its often with brands that reflect our values.”

“I think we’re going to see in the next two to three years a major inflection point where unless you’re giving back, unless you’re very clear about how you’re contributing to communities and to the environment, you’re going to become irrelevant as a brand.”

This week is National Reconciliation Week, a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how everyone can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. 

“I think we’re starting to realise that we have so much to learn from Indigenous cultures, which in our arrogance, we haven’t stopped to learn and listen and haven’t had the humility to listen. And now my hope is, and it would seem that we are starting to simply come and meet and listen,” Jeremy told Power Retail. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately and often systematically effected by inequality. i=Change are doing their part by working with retailers to run impact campaigns offering a donation option at checkout going directly to supporting First Nations people. It is partnering with the Fred Hollows Foundation to restore and treat vision loss to a community disproportionately effected, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults three times more likely to go blind than other Australians although 90 percent of vision loss is preventable or treatable. Another notable partner is in The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation, who are doing amazing work in rural and remote Australia in communities where there is up to 70 percent illiteracy.  

Contributing to achieving reconciliation can start with conversations.

“When it comes back to retail, I guess you could ladder up to all businesses. How do we start to become aware of our own unconscious bias or even our own conscious bias? How do we start to realise that increasingly diversity is great for teams? It’s great for outcomes, it’s great for mental health, it stops us living in our own little silos of thought where we all sort of confirm what we already believe rather than be challenged by new world views and understandings and effectively opening up our minds and hearts and ears to new conversations.”

A responsibility falls on retail leaders to move us forward, Jeremy says.

“We need leaders in retail and business to be courageous around making the kinds of choices that may not necessarily be comfortable or even popular, but are going to kind of move us forward. Now, the tension, of course, is between that and the driver of profitability and increasing revenue.

“The bottom line is they are  not in conflict with each other. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and ultimately reconciliation must be predicated on courage, courage to understand and recognise the past, and courage to understand that we may not necessarily be “responsible”, but we are maintaining structures that do, by design, maintain exclusion.”

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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