I have been wondering for a while now why people get all upset with companies that are bad corporate citizens in their employment practices, layoffs, environmental policies, community impact, etc., yet Americans continue to support companies whose policies harm us and our country by buying from them and using their products/services.
Often, it appears that it’s a question of convenience and a misplaced sense that the government, laws, or other people should be taking the steps to make sure that corporate citizens should conduct themselves appropriately. I have seen it again and again in recent years. For example, on ActiveRain there has been an abundance of documented cases of specific Banks and Mortgage Companies mistreating consumers… consumers who are our clients, but how many of us have made changes to where we do out banking or whom we refer our buyers to for mortgages? Imagine if all the ActiveRain bloggers, a group of 200,000 real estate professionals, targeted the worst offenders one at a time? Do you think that all the mortgage companies would take notice if we moved our personal and business accounts and stopped referring business?
It’s the same with retailers and consumer products. I have seen people complain about discriminatory practices or corporate giving on the part of retailers, yet I will see those people with the offending store’s bag in their hand and when I ask they tell me “Yeah, but I like their stuff better than their competitor's stuff.” or they will say “Yeah, but their prices are lower and I don’t want to pay 25 cents more for my kitty litter.”
Let me tell you folks… sometimes creating change means that we have to pay 25 cents more for kitty litter, if the change is truly important to us and you want a retailer to change their human resources policies for their employees. It might mean not using your favorite brand of something until the company that makes it changes their policies about environmental responsibility. It might mean not flying an airline that you are collecting frequent flier miles on until they eliminate a lot of junk fees for things baggage until they change their positions on corporate donations to political or social causes.
It may be easier to continue doing what we have always done, buying what we have always bought or doing business with whom we have always done business, and hope that the government or actions of others who are similarly minded will bring about the changes we desire, but easy and effective are often not words that intersect.
Perhaps it’s time that we wake up and realize that if we all come together, our wallets can be as powerful as our votes in creating change.