I’m sure you’ve been told a hundred times that you can make a difference by voting with your wallet.
But have you thought about how, as a small business, this can go beyond just switching to recycled print paper or investing in a reusable cup for your morning coffee?
These individual actions are wonderful and absolutely needed but we also have the power to do more!
For most business owners, the biggest impact we can make isn’t actually with what we buy, but rather where we put our money.
Here are three big ways you can vote with your wallet and genuinely make a difference as a small business:
1. Ethical banking
Do you know if your chosen bank aligns with your ethical practices?
Does it fund fossil fuel expansion? Deforestation? The arms industry? Tobacco and gambling? Unfair working practices? Live exports?
If you’re not sure, I encourage you to do some digging.
Many of the big banks continue to finance industries that are causing environmental damage or that might not sit well with you. And your money is being used to lend to these organisations.
Thankfully, there are responsible alternatives nowadays.
By switching to a more ethical bank, you can seriously increase your positive impact as a business owner – not only by showing the big banks that you demand better, but by putting your money into an organisation that is using it for good.
2. Cleaner business insurance
Similar to the big banks, many of the big insurance companies continue to support fossil fuel expansion in some way.
While some insurers have committed to reducing their investments in and underwriting of fossil fuel companies, it’s still a murky area because many continue to underwrite or insure oil and gas extraction and other related activities.
There’s a lot of technical jargon and greenwashing out there – it can be hard to know where to start with finding an insurer that isn’t funding climate change!
I recommend you check out Insure Our Future, which is an international campaign calling on insurance companies to exit coal, oil and gas in a way that limits global warming to 1.5 degrees.
You can use its annual Scorecard to compare insurers and find the provider with the strongest policies around moving away from fossil fuels.
There’s still A LOT of work to be done to clean up the industry, so sadly “squeaky clean business insurance” isn’t exactly a thing yet. But you can still choose a provider that is taking steps to do better.
3. Ethical investing (i.e. superannuation / pension)
Okay, I’m sure you’ve spotted the recurring theme by now…
When you pay into a superannuation or pension fund, your money is invested on your behalf into various bonds and stocks.
With a traditional fund, this might involve investing in industries that don’t align with your ethical standards – for example, those that engage in poor practices or that contribute to social or environmental harm, like tobacco or coal.
Happily, there are a few funds out there that are committed to “ethical investing” instead.
Choose an ethical superannuation or pension provider to make sure your retirement money is being used to support companies that are doing good for people and the planet.
I know it can feel like a faff moving your money around.
But if you’re serious about making your business more socially and environmentally responsible, I believe investing your income consciously is one of the most impactful changes you can make.
Keep making those everyday switches like your print paper and coffee cup for sure but do consider how your money is being used behind the scenes too.
Think you’re going to make a change? I’d love to know!
Until next time…
Keep making waves.