Important question for entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who are actively trying to build their business on transparency, trust and honesty:
If there was a way to collaborate on ethical marketing without having to deal with shaming, judgey comments or ‘5-step blueprints to success’...
Ethical marketing has become quite a buzzword. But let’s face it: a lot of us are doubting their marketing and sales practices every day.
Finding that sweet spot where you make enough to pay the bills AND your marketing feels good for the soul can feel like a huge task. Because the fear of losing clients or customers is real.
Plus, understanding the principles of ethical marketing is one thing. Implementing them in your day-to-day work is a different story.
Your work is full of complexity, nuance, and intersections. It’s about the How more than the What. Unfortunately, social media and posturing on the internet favor easy answers: this is ethical, that isn’t.
Ironically, the term ‘ethical marketing’ increasingly turns up in ads designed to manipulate people to buy more stuff they don’t need. And you don’t want to be one of the folks placing The Ethical Move badge on their website without doing the work. In your eyes, that kind of ethical posing is harming the cause.
Our solution to what seems insurmountable is Community.
Because transforming the marketplace is deep, emotional labor.
You took the pledge because you refuse to be inauthentic and follow icky marketing rules. And you want to see more businesses that you deal with also taking a stand.
We named unethical marketing tactics on our website to help you explain how you already feel to others. But giving ethical marketing advice to your clients and colleagues still makes you uncomfortable:
Heck, even just placing The Ethical Move badge on your website felt like taking a risk.
And let’s not even get started with the fear...
Of getting it wrong.
Or going it alone.
Like, being the only business you’ve ever seen that offers freebies without an email sign-up box. Being at the forefront of change can be lonely... even lonelier with an email marketing list of zero subscribers.
Small businesses are the largest growing sector of our global economy; how we operate will inform policy. There are a lot of us, we are courageous and adaptable — which makes us uniquely qualified to change the status quo.
We are the movement for ethical marketing. And we believe the way we sell will change the world.
Together, we are committing to transparent, responsible and honest marketing. So we can empower each other to break the cycle of consumerism and level the playing field.
[ID: "We're in this work, together", 'together' underlined with yellow marker]
There are plenty of Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and meetups connecting ethical marketers and business owners with each other. It’s lovely being able to hold informal conversations, collaborate on projects and refer work to each other.
But that’s not even scratching the surface of the true power of community.
Which is why TEMC is not just about helping you grow your business. Once we’re together in a safe space that’s not all about making more money more efficiently, we get to work on the root causes of the stuff we want to change.
“Why is the ‘ethical’ label even needed?”
That question starts a whole different conversation. One that involves potentially scary political exchanges. One that requires permission to think beyond capitalism as we know it. And one that involves thinking about a utopia in which we no longer have "ethical" as our USP... because everyone's ethical.
What would need to happen for that utopia to materialize?
That’s what TEMC is about, and what we believe is the true power community has to offer.
Yep, we get it: we're all part of the system called ‘the global economy’. Like fish in water, we take it for granted much of the time.
Perhaps even to the extent that we're worried that the things we hold dear (freedom, financial security, creativity, the list goes on...) might be threatened if the underlying system changes.
So the thought that honesty and transparency are enough to make our actions ethical seems oh-so seductive.
But it’s not enough.
The global economy as we know it stands in the way of people and planet being treated with dignity and respect. It provides the perfect breeding ground for oppression and exploitation to continue just below our awareness: a numbed out, instant-gratification, consumerist society.
Ethical marketing must centre those who’ve been marginalized, racialized, colonized by white supremacist consumer capitalism.
So we can raise awareness for the bigger picture (consumerism, politics, supply chains). Because it’s all connected, whether it be psychological sales tactics, human rights abuses, or wildlife sanctuaries that are being destroyed.
TEMC stands in solidarity with people and movements working for global liberation. Consider this community your lab for cooking up alternative marketing and sales practices that make "ethical moves" the norm.
Most membership communities online exist in order to nurture leads for their hosts. That’s fine as long as all involved are aware that they are leads being nurtured in the hope of a sale.
At The Ethical Move, we don’t have an ultimate offer that we hope to sell to you via the membership. To us, you’re not a lead: you’re a member of our grassroots movement.
As a social movement, we organize (educate + connect) and mobilize (get active to craft change). You’ve come to the right place if you want to learn ethical marketing from the ground up. So you can take action. Beyond growing your own business.
Because this is about creating industry-wide change.
For example, instead of teaching you how to run more successful Facebook ads, we’d rather ask: “Should we run Facebook ads at all? And if so, how can we do so in an ethical way?"
Creating and holding the space for these kinds of high-quality conversations is labor that deserves to get paid.
Charging a membership fee (without pricing anyone out) helps us stay laser focused on supporting you in your growth as an ethical marketer. Not using the topic of ethical marketing to grow our own business.
That said, if your hunger for change is bigger than your budget, our solidarity pricing model is here for you.
The Ethical Move Community is offered at a sliding scale. The actual cost of the monthly membership $CAD 30. Memberships below that price are limited.
If you’d like to pay it forward and help make TEMC membership financially accessible to brilliant minds with limited funds, please consider purchasing your membership at the higher price of $CAD 60.
Please read our sliding scale guide at the end of the page before choosing your membership.
[ID: "Welcome to The Ethical Move Community", 'Community' underlined with yellow marker]
To me, “The Ethical Move” is a journey.
It’s hard to pinpoint when I took my first step. Putting aside a lifetime of being sold to as a consumer, I was exposed to scholarship about the worst of capitalism and consumerism in high school and college.
Abstract knowledge became lived experience during the first few years of my career as an in-house marketer for a small business. However, it was only when I started working for myself in 2017 that I was exposed to all the worst parts of marketing.
Starting an online business meant being bombarded by advertising from bro marketers and mainstream business “thought leaders.” Once the algorithm learned I wasn’t interested, the feed became populated with #girlboss brands. This experience, coupled with ongoing research into the history of business, showed me how toxic, manipulative, and exploitative marketing could be.
I’ve come to realize that unethical practices are but a symptom of all the systemic problems in our society, and the structures we have in place incentivize unethical behavior.
But no one will change the world alone.
Whatever future we create… it will be a result of our collective efforts.
I want us to smash binaries and embrace nuance. Both in the world and within us. We all hold multitudes. To free each and one of us, we need to break out of the boxes that we were forced into.
I believe the way out of our current predicament is to learn how to be with each other. To form new relationships and strengthen the ones we have already.
The only way we can break out of our current cycle of harm and destruction is by learning how to connect and re-connect with each other.
To support each other in our respective journeys.
I joined The Ethical Move as a community host because I believe the only way forward is… together.
Teaching language and literature in Scotland and Germany, I found that I naturally gravitated towards topics such as media literacy, the social psychology of fashion and the inner workings of marketing & advertising.
With no voice of their own and no obvious ethical marketing codex, teenagers were so vulnerable to the images thrown at them — with consequences ranging from eating disorders to blackmail, from shoplifting to depression.
In 2012, I started and led the global copy team at LEGO Customer Service. I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to work as part of a team with a strong ethical stance and a conviction that we need to do the right thing. It was a great honour being able to pour that spirit and mindset into tone of voice guides, copywriting and advisor training. And success proved us right: some LEGO customer service emails went viral.
I then spent a few years at a London-based consultancy, writing for over 70 iconic brands — some of which promoted values that I don’t share.
It was really during that time that I could no longer ignore the fact that people and planet will soon go to **** if we don’t get our act together.
If we want to make sustainability the norm, we need sustainable communication.
If we want people to take more responsibility, we need responsible communication.
If we want to break down the barriers that keep us from working together, we need communication that connects — not divides.
That’s why I started my own communications consultancy, and why I joined The Ethical Move in 2018.
Because to stop climate change, save species from dying and make society more humane, we need a radical rethink.
We need to stand together.
And we need to get heard.
At 18 I was confronted with inequality in the most literal sense. For 3 months I lived in a rich, gated community in La Paz (Bolivia) – separated from the slum a few hundred meters down the road by a piece of wood and an armed guard. Almost every night, people would die from mudslides because the houses of the rich were crammed onto the hill above.
Returning from Bolivia, my life was never the same. After a decade and a half of research into all possible avenues of relief work, I conceded that ‘relief’ would not come from a fix: a new well, a new school or a new community centre in an impoverished (read: exploited) nation.
The only thing to do to create lasting change, is to look for the source of the inequality and break the system that creates the need for relief.
Unsurprisingly, the source is us – and our insatiable hunger for more. Try as we might to fight the urge …we were born addicted. Raised to want. Because being satisfied with what is right in front of us doesn’t generate profit.
And greener pastures are so easy to conjure. A dash of envy and a bit of urgency is all it takes to create a willing subject ready to eat out of our hands. If we listen to the chatter online; the better we are at hacking the minds of your people, the better we are at doing business.
But we lose sight of what is infinitely more important than profit: integrity, trust, creativity, relationships, community, our health, and the health of others. We forget that there is fallout to our insatiability – and we desperately need to remember for us to build an equal society.
I created The Ethical Move because I truly believe we can break the cycle by changing the way we sell. Even if not in my lifetime.
TEMC is here to open up that conversation even further.
To the places that may hurt. Feel confusing. Or overwhelming.
TEMC ONLINE COMMUNITY
Welcome, welcome! Your Mighty Networks community is waiting for your vibrant thoughts and questions. In order to foster meaningful exchange, we’ve built TEMC on 4 values:
Here’s how you’ll see these core values in action:
A gentle, professional approach to hosting.
Topics built to help you do your best thinking.
A built-in directory of future collab partners.
TEMC AMA OFFICE HOURS
Once a month, bring your questions and ideas to the live Ask-Me-Anything Office Hours. You’ll get a short bit of training in one area of ethical marketing + sales. Then the floor is yours! Your hosts will be there to guide the conversation, provide input and help us go deep. Let’s brainstorm solutions and crowdsource alternatives together.
TEMC WORKSHOPS + TRAINING
Many people who’ve taken the pledge tell us they fell down the rabbit hole of resources we’ve collected on The Ethical Move website. Read dozens of books. Made important changes in their business. And still want to learn more.
If that sounds familiar, look forward to TEMC Workshops + Training!
TEMC NETWORKING SESSIONS
“OK, OK. So far, TEMC sounds like awesome learning + growth... But where’s the fun?”
We hear you! That’s why we’ll have monthly networking sessions. Think of them as Happy Hours:
Sounds awkward? Don’t worry! Your hosts will inject a bit of social butterfly magic dust so you’ll feel like meeting old friends.
TEMC VIRTUAL CO-WORKING
We could talk about ethical sales + marketing all day, all night. But at some point, we gotta put in some elbow grease and make changes: Switch to more privacy friendly tech. Make our website more accessible. Review our hiring process so it’s more inclusive. Create an editing checklist that targets unconscious bias in our copy.
Your life is busy, and so it’s easy to push that kind of work to the bottom of the list. That’s why we get together once a month to work on our ethical marketing together in a virtual co-working session:
Conventional marketing says that this is where we should give you some sort of “golden guarantee”. We should tell you that we have such unshakeable confidence in TEMC that we’ll offer you a refund if you don’t see certain specific results.
But here’s the thing.
TEMC is a social movement, not an online course.
We’re here to build a new marketing paradigm. A utopia.
And while we may have specific ideas about what that could look like, we hope you’re invested in this new tomorrow because it’s the right thing.
Not just because you hope to profit from it.
The kind of change we seek to make demands commitment and patience and a willingness to be wrong. That’s why our shortest membership is for 3 months.
We hope you’ll sign up for a quarter, give it a shot, fall in love with this community and stay for good.
No, quite the opposite! We're going to promote your work as part of the community and invite you to new ways of stepping into your power.
TEMC is a non-judgmental, safe space for conversations about ethical marketing + sales. We're all doing our best, and each of us is on their individual journey. You'll find lots of support and encouragement here, whether you've been on that journey for years or are yet to take your first step.
We hear you. Right now, our team doesn’t represent all voices equally, and we’d love to change that. If you’re willing to allow us to learn from you, please bring your individuality, your background and accessibility needs.
Invest as much or as little time as you can, there's no minimum time commitment. But we can promise you this: the more time you spend with this community, the more you'll get out of it. This is your home, and we'll do whatever is in our power to make this a place where you love to hang out.
If your hunger for change is bigger than your budget, please use the solidarity pricing to join us. We also offer a limited number of scholarships. Email us at [email protected] to find out more.
Sure can! Here’s what you can look forward to inside our Mighty Networks:
We’re grateful to Alexis J. Cunningfolk for their in-depth thoughts on the sliding scale and permission to riff on it. While we encourage you to read their articles, here is what you need to know about TEMC pricing: