On Wednesday 11 November 2015, we brought together more than thirty fashion designers, leading journalists and CEOs of major brands, retailers and manufacturers at the UK Houses of Parliament to discuss how sustainability can be taken to scale in the fashion and textiles industry and how the new Mysource.io platform will make that possible.
Our political leaders won't act unless public pressure forces them to do so and the trade in blood diamonds will continue unchecked and unseen. Consumers, especially those in the fashion, film and media industry who are used to promote the industry, must questions the ethical provenance of the jewellery they wear and not allow the industry to fob them off with bogus claims that diamonds are ethically sourced and conflict-free.
Management accountants, with their role as business partners, are ideally equipped to navigate this arena, providing the relevant insight to manage the risks as well as innovations that come with ethical scenarios. And while the Volkswagen story unfolds before our eyes, seemingly with no end in sight, it serves as a timely reminder: ignore acting ethically at your own peril.
Since fashion has the potential to be so widely visible, and being one of the highest employing industries globally, the increased action and dialogue surrounding sustainability and ethical issues are positive developments, helping to bring the transformative work of countless organisations, initiatives and brands in to view - but there is more to be done.
On Friday 11 September, MPs will be voting on a bill. A bill which has had little media attention. A bill which has been introduced by a relatively unknown Labour MP - Rob Marris. And yet a bill which, if passed, will have profound implications for people up and down the country. It is a bill dealing with matters of life and death.
A better understanding about the shocking environmental implications of low-cost garment production may finally move customers to push companies into improving their ethics, pay and working conditions. That's because the environment directly affects the customer, and any children they have or intend to have.
It is likely that the way we treat animals will change and one day we might even call them our co-citizens. A few decades ago the animal rights movement seemed to some like a fringe fad, but it is now part the mainstream. Call me barking mad, but I suspect that in a few more decades we might be talking about co-citizen adoption agencies rather than pet shops.
The UK has a well-developed model to achieve 'good', however motivating Millennials to become great will be hard without change. We have 46 Olympic sports but to get to 60 Gold medals, most incremental medals will come from 'outside the model' (such as new sports like Snowboarding). How refreshing to witness a UK sports think tank engaging with how to achieve that. It made me proud to be British.
For decades, a company's performance has been measured almost exclusively in economic terms. Social and environmental issues such as health and safety in garment factories in Bangladesh, the use of conflict minerals in our mobiles, the privacy policies of internet service providers or forced labour on our doorstep have been seen as immaterial to how a company should be valued and how investors should assess performance. This is finally - and thankfully - changing.