ATTENTION! We Need To Talk About How We Talk About Sustainability & Equality.
This story is not about the importance of sustainability and equality. Hopefully, you have already figured that out. Instead, we would like to talk about how most companies, markets and legislators haven’t figured out how to talk about it and how it deprives consumers from taking action.
This story is written by Simon, Hjalmar, and Gustaf, the three founders of Gokind.
Realizing that we got a big communication problem
When one of our founders stumbled across a sign from a company claiming to be 80% sustainable, he had a spark of realization: Companies and markets are way too vague about what they do regarding sustainability and equality. This was not a new insight, due to continuously being bombarded with greenwashing, but a mere tipping point blatantly exposing a need for action.
Upon sharing the image with the other founders, they all went on a deep dive into the world of corporate sustainability work and communication. What followed was a flood of Corporate Fluff and Green Hushing.
The Corporate Fluff
Not walking the talk.
This phenomenon is easily identified as vague promises and bold claims without any proof; “we love eco” and a suspicious use of the color green are classic red flags. Not that these are wrong per se, but the lack of proof and substance are what makes them cause more harm than good.
Not talking the walk.
Far from everyone are greenwashers. During our deep dives, we found an impressive set of companies and markets actively participating in the fight against the climate crisis and injustice. The problem is that these great ideas, initiatives and achievements are hidden behind a wall of text on page 72 of a 300-page long sustainability report or embedded in a sustainability certificate that consumers are not aware of.
When the two worlds collide
Both Corporate Fluff and Green Hushing are damaging, but the co-existence of them in a similar landscape is what makes things spiral out of control. It gets close to impossible to quickly be able to distinguish between faulty fluff and the real stuff. To unveil and compare what companies are doing and not doing approach the impossible for the individual to achieve.
This leads to people buying, investing in, and picking brands, products and services that don’t match with their values every single day.
Meanwhile, we got a bit of a revolution…
A never seen before demand.
While the battle between what is real and not continues, the demand for knowing the truth is booming in a way never seen before.
One of the easiest ways for individuals to make an impact is to pick A over B. Almost every day you’re bound to pick brands, products and services. Everyone should get a chance to make informed choices that correspond to their values.
And a major problem
Making informed choices turn out to be very difficult. Today’s corporate sustainability reporting, mixed with vivid but vague marketing, leave the consumer with a mere gut feeling for what brands and corporations stand for. The inertia for the individual to get up to speed is tremendous. Even renowned B2C brands have their sustainability walk paved out in enormous PDF reports; illegible and inaccessible for today’s mobile-first users.
The primary negative effect of the current situation, being that consumers and citizens cannot make informed decisions when it comes to sustainable consumption, is supplemented by a severe secondary effect: an increasing distrust by citizens regarding how companies, market and public stakeholders handle the climate crises and other sustainability challenges we face. The combination is deeply worrying.
There is a large gap between the vast majority of consumers that want to make sustainable choices and the minority that actually make such choices.
Choices towards sustainability are also choices creating long-term benefits for society, which is difficult for the individual to fully comprehend and where there also is a lack of economic incentives for the individual to act. Upcoming legislation, such as the EU’s Taxonomy framework, will on the one hand improve availability to sustainability data but on the other hand, the means to reach and spread this information to non-institutional stakeholders (meaning all of us; consumers and citizens) still remain unsolved.
All these critical dilemmas have been left unattended by the markets and legislators. So we quickly understood that someone needs to drastically rethink how consumer transparency can be achieved.
Our mission is to solve this
Our reason for being is to help and simplify for consumers to make sustainable choices throughout their lives.
Being able to radically simplify a task, has historically been a key success factor when you want to introduce a new solution or form a new habit. This is also true when you want to improve consumer power and transparency. You need to make it super easy for the end-user, i.e. the consumer, to engage with the solution and reap its rewards. Otherwise its bound to fail. Our venture and methodology are all about drastically simplifying the life of our fellow consumers.
We want to offer our consumers the absolute easiest way to access and understand relevant insights on companies’ sustainability and equality works (and lack thereof). If we can acheive this we will also reduce the risk of misinformation. We want to bring and increased competitive advantage for businesses that contribute to transparency and a sustainable transition, and nudge (and provide visibility for) the ones that lag behind to take action.
But how? The digital consumer platform we are launching merges data and insights on companies’ sustainability and equality work with the consumer’s own transactional data (via our own AI-tool and EU’s Open Banking framework). This allows us to give each consumer a one click away solution where the individual can screen companies she/he interacts with based on their sustainability work, automatically discover more sustainable alternatives (which she/he instantly can act upon) and also be rewarded when making sustainable choices.
Take care, be kind.