In This Episode:
- Why brand strategist Alice Karolina created the ethical move, which helps small business owners navigate building more ethical marketing and sales systems
- How the ethical move evolves as they practice reflection and collaboration
- Why Alice prioritizes moving slowly when it comes to building the business
- What they’re discovering as they incrementally investigate what building a business that prioritizes ethics looks like
I had always thought I was running a pretty values-driven business.
I cared about people and tried to operate always assuming the best of them. I developed programs in the spirit of experimentation—a core value for me. And I utilized transparency and honesty in my marketing and sales processes.
But at the same time, I didn’t ask a lot of questions. If someone told me it was totally fine to do X, Y, or Z marketing tactic, I believed them.
I operated my business that way through October 2016. Then, I had a wakeup call and a lot of questions. Like many people, I had so many questions about how the United States had gotten to that point. I had questions about the deep betrayal that I felt as a woman and the deep betrayal that wasn’t at all new for women of color, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, and disabled people.
And all of those questions started to trickle down into my business. I started to see ways that I was inadvertently replicating power structures I wasn’t okay with. And I started to see how it’s so easy to turn a marketing campaign into a misinformation campaign.
I wanted to figure out how to do things differently.
I have learned so much over the last 5 years. And I’ve changed a lot of the ways I personally operate—as well as the operations in my business. We regularly explore what it looks like to live and work our values as a community.
And one thing I’ve wrestled with in all that change and learning has been why we’re doing things differently and why we endeavor to do better. It’s easy to let “wanting to do better” become wanting to follow the right rules, get the language just right, or make sure that you speak up in just the right way when something horrific happens.
This is a pattern that so many white, straight, women like myself fall into. And I know it’s one that I could easily fall into being the rule-loving, achievement-oriented person I am.
Last year, one of my commitments was a reminder for me to examine my pattern of defensiveness.
I talked about it a bit here on the podcast. This year, one of my commitments reminds me to speak up, to not avoid conflict, just because I have something difficult to say. As I’ve worked through those patterns and altered my habits, I’ve gotten pretty clear on what I do want and don’t want when it comes to doing business differently.
What I do want is to regularly examine the work I put out into the world to make sure it leaves room for human experiences that are different than mine. I don’t want to exclude or hurt people by virtue of the way I do business or even share my own story.
What I don’t want is to live in fear of saying the wrong thing, getting called out, or being cancelled.
And the good news is that by focusing on leaving room for other people’s experiences and taking steps not to hurt people with the language I use or the stories I tell, I don’t have to live with that fear. I can accept that I won’t always get it right or that I’d discover new things I can do to operate with a greater degree of inclusivity. And I can know that the people around me are doing the same. We’re not waiting for someone to screw up, we’re working together to do better.
I wanted to share this with you because I know that talking about doing business ethically, inclusively, or accessibly can bring up all sorts of feelings.
It can make you worry that you’re going to say or do the wrong thing. It can make you feel ashamed if you discover there’s something you need to change.
But when you orient your motive toward making room for difference, including people who’s experiences aren’t like yours, taking steps to not hurt people with your business, I think you can find both some peace and the motivation for real, lasting change.
Alice and I talk about how the ethical move came to be, the values that guide the work the ethical move does, and how the business is set to evolve into the future.
Now, let’s find out what works for Alice Karolina.