In recent years, ethical issues have been of great concern in many international as well as small businesses. In fact, many organisations have started to published the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) annual report to outline the sustainability goals and achievements besides the financial figures. Converse is one of America’s most iconic footwear companies. Providing people around the world with sneakers for over 100 years, the brand is considered cool and classic – but do their ethics match their image?
Business ethics in the modern world
We have known about business ethics for a long time, but do businesses actually perceive them the way they should and consequently follow the rules? In the epoch of industrialisation, the issue of business ethics is one of the most controversial concerns that many corporations and companies seek to comply with. Business ethics are something both producers and consumers can talk about, but hardly can we do them properly.
The footwear industry: Iconic or ethical?
In an era when trainer and shoe design is changed on a frequent basis, with many patterns introduced to consumers, there is one brand that has remained merely the same: Converse, especially the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. In fact, this product line of Converse has stayed virtually unchanged since it first entered the market place in 1917. After the takeover of Nike in 2003, Converse has since then surged again and become one of the most iconic sneaker brands in the world. Nevertheless, a great number of consumers raised their concern about the impact of the footwear industry on the environment as well as human being. As a consequence, Nike, in general, and Converse in specific has set some ambitious goal in order to enhance their business ethics.
Recently, the Corporate Social Responsibility policy of Converse has included some targets in relation to the environmental issues. The company is striving to reduce the production leftovers and waste for “most of their supply chain”. They have started to use the environmentally friendly materials for their manufacturing process in order to minimize their operational emissions by half in the near future of 5 years. In addition, one of the most surprising facts about the Chuck Taylor High Tops is that they can be recycled if consumers return them to Nike stores.
In spite of the fact that Converse is starting to turn itself into an eco-warrior, many people still criticizes that the brand has made no commitment to eliminate hazardous chemicals. In addition to this issue, they are facing dissatisfaction among workers in regard to the standard minimum wage. According to the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, Converse fails to pay “a living wage” or better wages “across their supply chain”. In particular, developing country workers do not receive the standard living wages as many fashion brands try to cut down their costs by way of outsourcing.
By and large, Converse has been rated “it’s a start” in most aspects in regards of its ethical policy. While the brand has made a decent start in each category, it has a way to go before achieving a higher score. Nevertheless, consumers can be positive about the future of the footwear industry as they are on their way to achieve ethical targets.
Horton, M (2018), “Why is business ethics important?”, Investopedia, 30 March 2018, available from https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/040815/why-are-business-ethics-important.asp
JKaybay (2015), “Converse Chuck Taylor High Tops”, The Green Stars Project, 28 March 2015, available from https://greenstarsproject.org/2015/03/28/converse-chuck-taylor-high-tops/
Wolfe, I (2017), “How ethical is Converse?”, Good On You, 11 September 2017, available from https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-converse/