MARKET RESEARCH & SUSTAINABILITY ETHICS
Doing the right thing supersedes race, religion and economic interests, right? And yet, when I review the standard market research industry’s ethics they do not explicitly acknowledge that social and environmental ethics supersede business ethics. In other words, is it okay for a market researcher to be complicit in the creation of products and services which obviously cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment? According to industry ethics, the answer is “yes.” But, this needs to change.
This fundamental question must be addressed by an industry that too often just looks at client-relationship ethics and ignores the importance of being a good citizen in society on planet earth. I raise this issue because it’s paramount to the market research industry being an effective contributor to the creation of a more sustainable world. Market research (and public opinion research) need ethics to better align acceptable behavior with the natural laws that protect the conditions which enable a high quality of human life on earth. These principles need to be taught as above, business ethics.
Today, it is my strong belief that, the market research industry is deeply complicit in the creation of many harmful products and services. Clearly, everyone knows that weapons such as cruise missiles, nuclear bombs, drones and rocket propelled grenades harm human beings. This is blatantly obvious, yet many make a living off the profits. What is now becoming increasingly known is that there are many more products which and yet its okay for a market researcher to aid in the creation of these types of products.
Very few researchers breach business ethics – they are extremely loyal to their clients, their pay checks, but they don’t generally consider how their actions contribute to the unsustainable business practices which lead to the harmful symptoms of global warming, plastic and chemical based carcinogens entering the human and animal food chain, unnecessary destruction of natural habitat and biodiversity which lead to the diminishment of the capacity for nature and human life to sustain itself on planet earth.
Can the industry change? Of course they can change. But, it will take a much stronger social and environmental conscious. Like most industry inventions, the market research industry did not try to be complicit in the creation of products and services which harm the environment, animals and the human race. However, everyone must – by now – know that making heavier, faster automobiles that burn more fossil fuel per mile that’s what they are inadvertently doing.