There are a few things that are everyone’s business, and those include social and environmental responsibility. The last 20 years have dramatically changed the way consumers understand retail and the way they can access it. As such, with an increased demand for products, there has been an increase in production and therefore raw material and human exploitation, which is wreaking havoc on our planet and its people.
Since the globalisation of e-commerce and easily-accessed retail platforms, there has been an increase in production and consumption, which in turn, has strengthened the divide between the planet and consumers.
Now, not only is there a large-scale consensus on rising inequality, exploitation and finite planetary resources, but there has been a growing number of conscientious consumers that are changing the way retailers present themselves.
The public awareness and consumer demand for environmentally-friendly and ethical sourcing has started to drive retailers and brands to assess their operations, products and supply chains and find ways to reduce their social and environmental impact.
The fashion industry alone is the third biggest retail manufacturing category, after automotive and technology. According to the House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, ‘Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined’. Using open-loop production cycles, fast fashion brands pollute water and land – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here, also working conditions and human rights have come under large scrutiny, not only since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013.
Transparency and sustainable practices have become a much-needed element of a modern retail company. It’s not just scientists that are enforcing this notion, it’s consumers too. In a recent study from CouriersPlease, 87 percent of Aussie consumers said they are more likely to purchase products that are ethically sourced and sustainably produced.
To drive awareness and highlight best practice within the Australian retail industry, Power Retail, in partnership with The Purpose Agents, has developed the Power Retail Sustainability Index, a benchmark for sustainable retail businesses.
“Social and environmental responsibility are key to good business strategy. Not only do customers ask for it, but it is also an important risk management tool to ensure future relevancy and operational resilience. 2020 has been a year of many shocks to our planet, its people and the way businesses operate and respond. The urgency for our global and business community to come together and drive positive change could not be more pronounced,” says Anna Forster, Co-Founder of The Purpose Agents.
Grant Arnott, the Publisher of Power Retail explained: “In order to give the Power Retail Sustainability Index the substance it needs, we engaged with The Purpose Agents to guide the methodology by which ranking and scoring on sustainability in e-commerce is achieved.”
“The Purpose Agents are passionate, knowledgeable and driven to see positive change in business’ approach to sustainability and social responsibility practices. Their consultation has ensured the methodology used is robust, comprehensive and transparent.”
The Sustainability Index consists of a questionnaire, derived from the triple bottom line theory, whereby companies should be working toward achieving positive results with regard to three bottom lines:
Profit: The traditional measure of corporate success
People: The measure of social responsibility when doing business
Planet: The measure of environmental responsibility when doing business
“We are very excited about the launch of the Power Retail Sustainability Index – a first in the Australian retail ecosystem and a testament to Power Retail’s commitment to drive positive change in the industry. We need business as an active agent in positive societal change and sustainable growth and we see this as an opportunity for Australian retailers to show true leadership”, explained Alice Kuepper, Co-Founder of The Purpose Agents.
The Power Retail Sustainability Index aims to raise awareness and drive retailers to create positive impact for people and the planet.
The 28-question benchmarking survey opens the opportunity for retailers to thoroughly assess and discuss their social responsibility and sustainability initiatives. This will be done across three topic areas, Company Ethos; Business Operations and Value Chain; and Business as an Agent of Change.
Responses to each question are rated on a scale from one to five. Scores will be tallied to determine the ranking on the Sustainability Index, and Power Retail will revisit these rankings continuously to chart the movement of sustainable practices in e-commerce.
Social and environmental responsibility is everyone’s business. If you think your company works towards a positive impact, this is your moment to recognise your hard work. To take part in the Power Retail Sustainability Index, submit your company’s practices now. Submissions close September 25th.
Introducing Talking Point, an exciting new series from Power Retail. Each month, we will cover a specific topic relevant to e-commerce. This month, we are showcasing and celebrating sustainable retailers across Australia. Watch out for this logo every month as we dive into new topics and investigate what it means to be an online retailer in Australia.