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The "Transparency Blog" features shared wisdom about workplace transparency. For more information, check the Home page or join us to share or seek some wisdom.
Starbucks began as a simple coffee store 1971 and was eventually transformed into a coffeehouse in 1984 after the Director of Retail Operations, Howard Schultz, took a trip to Italy and noticed the coffeehouse trend growing there.
The Starbucks mission statement is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Through this statement, Starbucks promises to value its communities and their needs, whether that be coffee, community service, or financial support.
On their website, Starbucks’ social impact tab explores all of their community outreach programs, environmental goals, ethical sourcing information, and global responsibility reports. This allows customers and other stakeholders to be aware of every social and financial aspect of the corporation.
In 2015, Starbucks and Conservation International piloted the Sustainable Coffee Challenge at the U.N. climate negotiations. This announcement was made as a call to action to achieve coffee as the world’s first completely sustainably sourced agricultural product.
To help hold themselves to this challenge, Starbucks is currently developing their bean-to-cup transparency technology. The emphasis of this technology will be on the people behind making the coffee. From farmers to taste testers to baristas, consumers will know where the cup of coffee came from and all the people that had a hand in crafting their beverage. Starbucks wants to make this technology to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers as well as show how their farmers and coffee farms are being taken care of in an ethical way.
L’Oréal is a corporation that owns many brands, including Lancôme Paris and Yves Saint Lauren Beauté (the makeup division of the brand). L’Oréal is a global powerhouse, and it’s most likely than not that you own something that is made by a company they own. Compared to most companies, L’Oréal is pretty transparent; a look at their website will show consumers pretty much everything they need to know. They list every brand they own, they show the sustainability measures they’ve taken, and they detail their history very closely.
However, like most companies today, they’ve gone through their own share of scandals:
In 2012: The FDA did a study of lead concentration in lipsticks, and lipsticks that fall under the L’Oréal brand consisted of five of the top ten. The FDA made it very clear that absolutely no amount of lead is safe to ingest. So even though the concentration of the lead may be super small, it can still harm consumers. L’Oréal stated that they had no idea where the lead was coming from, and that they were working to figure that out, and create a way to get rid of the lead.
In 2014: L’Oréal was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for an advertisement they put out for two of their products: Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skin products. In these ads, they claimed that the products could create anti-aging effects by targeting users’ genes.
They said that the product could “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins that would cause “visibly younger skin in just 7 days,” and would provide results to specific percentages of users.” They also claimed it was clinically proven.
L’Oréal and the FTC settled this by having L’Oréal agree to never make any of those claims again unless they had solid scientific evidence.
In 2018: L’Oréal released an animal testing FAQ on their website. Basically, what they said was that they don’t use cosmetic products that have been tested on animals after March 2013. What this means is that they don’t use products tested on animals if the testing occurred after March 2013 or is being used in their “medicated products” (so, wrinkle creams, anti-aging products, sunscreens, etc).
Not everything is bad though. The company focuses on improving the biodegradability of their formulas and reducing their water footprint. They have committed to redesigning responsible, sustainable packaging since 2007. They pledge that by 2020, 100% of their products will have an improved environmental or social profile. By 2020, they also plan to have 100% of their raw materials used in their products come from renewable sources.
E V E R L A N E Transparency Blog
Everlane is an online clothing company focusing on “modern essentials.” Their mission is to score a 90 or above for every factory. They are making strides in selecting the best factories and building strong relationships with the owners. Everlane has an outlook on being radically transparent with their customers. Their website offers numerous ways in order to see how their products are made, cost, and produced. Not only do they want to be transparent but also make efforts in helping out the environment as well. Here are some of the few projects Everlane is embarking on.
- ReNew Collection: With this project, Everlane’s efforts is to have no new plastic in their supply chain by 2021. They are currently replacing all synthetic fabrics with renewed alternatives. Not only do they want to change the fabrics but also change the packaging. As part of this project, they developed a recycled version to ship out products. With Everlane’s impact on the environment, this can encourage all of their consumers to want to make a change as well.
- The Black Friday Fund: This project’s initiative is to build the world’s cleanest farm. Saitex denim company will help workers in Vietnam. This will give them one free meal per shift. All of the profits from Black Friday will go towards this fund. Not only can you help the workers but also help save the environment as well. Everlane is making it possible for their consumers to help the world.
- Human Heroes: Everlane’s core mission on radical transparency is to defend human rights. With the launch of this project, they hope to highlight individuals that fight for those rights every day. Through its 100% Human Heroes campaign Everlane has been able to raise over $500,000 for organizations. Through partnering with these organizations Everlane hopes to highlight activists at every level.
However, some online reviews state that Everlane does have some issues that they should work on such as, sizing, supply vs the demand, customer service and returns. It is important to mention than Everlane is practically a new company (founded in 2010) and becoming aware of these issues and trying to fix them would make it an even better company. Despite these issues, Everlane does have a great concept on being transparent with their customers through their website.
U B E R
One word… Uber. What would we do without it? Most of us, particularly those living in the city, rely on Uber quite often as an essential way of getting from point A to point B. If you haven’t already used Uber, or at least heard of it, it is a transportation service company that launched in March of 2009. Uber is the first of it’s kind, and is now used in over 800 metropolitan areas.
Uber’s Mission Statement is, “Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.”
Through an app, users are given the ability to type in a location in which they would like to travel to, then the app connects them to a driver, who will arrive at their current location for pick up in minutes. Unlike a cab, uber eliminates the need to call ahead along with many other perks compared to riding in a taxi.
However, since Uber’s launch in 2009, they have created a long list of scandals, and transparency issues ranging from sexual harassment to controversial fares. Here’s just a few:
- Uber’s over relaxed hiring process has led to many tragic situations including a sexual predator was hired as a driver, and later raped a passenger when she was in his car.
- Transparency issues with unreliable surge fees. Users may be at the same location, going to the same destination, and be charged different prices. Also sometimes the routes that guide the driver often take the rider a longer way so that it is more expensive.
After several more scandals with the original CEO Travis Kalanick, he was forced to resign. The new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is trying to revamp the company and promote transparency with a new outlook on the companies values and focus on safety. By
starting with advertisements in commercials and partnerships with organizations such as No More, they are proactively encouraging appropriate behavior in terms of sexual
harassment. They also started running more thorough background checks on employees, and have been working on new features for the app such as RapidSOS, and a location sharing feature so that family and friends can follow you on your ride to make sure you get to your destination safely. Although the company still may not be perfect, it is on the right track to a more transparent culture, thanks to Khosrowshahi.
H&M is a world-wide mens and women’s clothing brand. It operates in 62 different countries with over 4500 stores and 150,000 employees. With branding almost always comes controversy, which H&M is familiar with. Controversies they’ve been involved in range from racist advertisements, over-production, environmental mistreatment, etc.
In response to these controversies, H&M has made many strides toward becoming a transparent brand, including creating their own foundation and being open about the policies and codes that they hold important.
The CEO, Karl-Johan Persson, has expressed before how “[H&M is] dedicated to continue making great fashion and designs affordable, by having a circular approach and being a fair and equal company.“ Sustainability within H&M is held obtainable in their main priorities by 100 percent leading the change, holding their company as a 100 percent fair and equal working environment, and giving a 100 percent circular and renewable cycle for every item of clothing.
To achieve this goal, H&M’s strategy was to develop an ambitious strategy, find a broad range of external and internal experts, and follow a science-based approach wherever possible. Just last year, some of their key achievements included the reduced rate of emissions from their own operations by a further 21%. They have made a promise that by 2030, H&M will only use recycled or other sustainably-sourced materials in the brand.
In fact, H&M’s sustainability has been widely recognized for many awards. Awards such as the The Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index and Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Newsweek Green Ranking to name a few.
As sustainability in this day and age has become the most desirable aspect of the fashion industry, H&M has officially set a new chemical vision and roadmap to lead the change towards a toxic-free fashion future. In turn, 100 percent of the associated commercial business partners with H&M have signed their Code of Ethics. This Change-Making Programme brings together the goals, road-maps, standards and follow-up methods they need to work towards the overall vision, while leaving room for locally-tailored implementation and activities.
The Fashion Transparency Index ranks and reviews 150 of the biggest brands and retailers. These are based on how much information the brands disclose about their suppliers along with supply chain policies and practices. Social and environmental impact are also factors in the disclosure. H&M was ranked #4 in the Fashion Transparency Index. They believe supplier disclosures is a key factor in transparency. Their supplier list lists first-tier manufacturers that are responsible for 98.5% of H&M group products. One of the things that makes H&M so transparent is the fact that they have a foundation. The foundation is called the H&M foundation. It is privately funded foundation by the Stefan Persson family and the founders and main owners of H&M. Their mission is to act as a catalyst for positive changes in all initiatives–to change the old way of doing things and speed up changes in their 4 focus areas. The 4 focus areas of the foundation include: Education, Water, Equality, and Planet.
Patagonia’s brand is well represented by their mission statement: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. They are firm believers in being as transparent as possible from doing audits within their own supply chain to admitting when they made a mistake.
Despite their efforts, in 2011 and 2015 Patagonia had to admit to some pretty awful things. Their 2011 scandal was that an audit within the company had revealed modern slaves from Taiwan in their supply chains suffering from long hours, low wages, and large broker fees. In 2015 they were found to be sourcing wool from an Argentinian wool farm that was involved in inhumane practices such as killing and mutilating their sheep, beating them, and skinning the sheep while they were still alive. In both of these situations they openly admitted to their mistakes, said what they were going to do to fix it, and took action.
Coming from an organization that preaches transparency, it’s always sad to see what they can get caught up in. But, it’s not what they are involved in (unaware of or not), it is what they do to fix the problem. In addition to fixing those two issues that came up over the last 10 years, Patagonia is also involved in a number of initiatives.
‘The Footprint Chronicles’ is a social responsibility initiative that has greatly aided Patagonia in rising to their status as a corporate leader in transparency. The webpage allows consumers and shareholders to educate themselves on the clothes they wear and the corporation’s global activities. Through the ‘The Footprint Chronicles’, users can access an interactive map to view a variety of locations containing details on Patagonia’s supply chain and production.
Patagonia vows to stay transparent and help the world we live in last. They also do amazing things such as give their employees up to 2 months off from work, paid and with benefits, to do volunteer work. They host 5ks, a “Ride Your Bike to Work Week”, focus on zero waste through their program WORN WEAR which recycles clothing, and also donate a lot of money to grassroot organizations. Patagonia’s constant drive towards being totally transparent is so amazing and they aim to influence other big companies. Most importantly Patagonia aims to educate consumers, other businesses, as well as themselves on how to be the best we can be to our earth while not compromising the quality of our things.
As a company Unilever represents hundreds of brands ranging from skin care, to cleaning products, to food and refreshments. Some of the most commonly known brands are Dove, Ben and Jerry’s, and Lipton. As a company, Unilever strives to maintain universal policy and expectations for all companies that it represents, however we discovered that this is easier said than done. As recent as 2017 Unilever was wrapped up in a scandal with PepsiCo, and Nestle in which all three companies were responsible for the destruction of Sumatra’s last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers together in one ecosystem.
The reason for the large amount of deforestation was because of the high demand in palm oil, a product used in many staple products. Unilever is the worlds largest purchaser for palm oil. In response to the backlash Unilever received from the media and its consumers the company underwent some major policy changes..
First, in direct response to the palm oil scandal Unilever came up with a sustainable plan which allows them to be able to trace exactly where the palm oil comes from. They also are building their own plantations which will allow them to sustainably collect the amount of oil they need. The only issue with this its that these policies won’t be fully active until 2020..
Second, the company is now making a conscious effort to be transparent. Chief supplier Marc Engel said “Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation. We want this step to be the start of a new industry-wide movement.”
Third, in order to be transparent Unilever is moving in the right direction. Making efforts to disclose ingredient information, whats in the products, and the origin of where the products and ingredients come from.
Unilever has made huge strides in the direction of becoming transparent and repairing its image. However, these policy changes will take years to become fully effective so whether or not Unilever reaches full transparency is something we’ll have to wait and see.
Sephora may be Glamorous on the Outside – but What Happens When we Take you on the Inside?
You might think Sephora has IT ALL c nsidering they carry 300 brands, as well as their own private label that caters for both men and women. But what if I told you the inner beauty of Sephora might be uglier than you expected..
Sephora has had numerous outbreaks with offended customers because of the names of the products on their shelves. They sold a lipstick called “Celebutard” which angered people across the nation. Sephora has been recognized by renown non-profits such as Inclusion BC and Facing Addiction for insensitive product names. Sephora removed the lipstick from the shelves, which was the right thing to do. But just 3 years later Sephora began selling Urban Decay eyeshadows with names that offended recovering addicts. They released impersonable apologies but never stated the issue in the release. They were also accused of racism towards their Asian customers when they accused the brand of deactivating their accounts during a sale. Sephora apologized and reassured they did not shut down anyone’s account but never addressed racism.
Sephora isn’t all bad. They help all customers look and feel their best to help us live more confidently. Their Classes for Confidence program helps inspire women with cancer feel more beautiful. Their program provides special beauty training to inspire these major life transitions. They treat their employees just as well. Through Sephora Stands Together Fund, they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their employees in times of need by providing financial aid. Doesn’t that make you want to join Sephora’s team?
There have been countless accidents regarding customers and trainers at SeaWorld. So, you’re probably wondering well “has SeaWorld ever owned up to these accidents?”. The answer to that question is no. SeaWorld has never been transparent with those who question what they stand for. Instead, they have blamed deaths and accidents involving their killer whales on trainers. The company stated they would end all shows involving killer whales, but it is evident that these shows are still being held because with one simply click you can buy tickets.
In July of 2013, Blackfish, a documentary regarding the captivity of one of SeaWorld’s whales was released. Blackfish focused on the consequences of keeping whales in captivity and all the incidents that occurred while having humans interact with these animals.
In attempts to clean up their image they came up with a campaign called “SeaWorld Cares” which has blogs and profiles on their whales. They also have “Animal Vision” which allows viewers from home to see their sharks, penguins and other sea animals. It’s been a difficult attempt for SeaWorld to clean up their name and with a documentary like Blackfish. exposing the company it’s doubtful they will ever bounce back.