Are we (you and me) powerful?
In March I published the blog: Wisdom. Consciousness. Leadership
At the time I wrote: “I am often confused by the choices made in our community from the individual level right through to Government and Big Business. Individuals might become aware and conscious about one social issue but completely ignore another.”
This Friday (April 24, 2015) marks 2 years since the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh when more than 1,100 people died and another 2,500+ people were injured.
Two years later, I wonder:
- What have the Board of Directors of these organisations who produce clothing in developing countries learned?
- What action has been taken to transition the industry and businesses towards a position of integrity?
- Are leaders in our society – people like you and me – making powerful choices when it comes to our purchasing?
A couple weeks ago I started writing a piece titled “The beggar and the dress maker” with the focus to be on the choices we make regarding gifting to charity for aid (which I support) and purchasing items we want for a fair price (which I also support). I often wonder whether we want to simply give charity and continue to purchase items at “bargain” prices which results in paying wages which are sub-standard and don’t allow the workers to support themselves or their families.
Always buying a “bargain” is a vicious cycle which keeps the powerful, powerful.
I didn’t get a chance to finish it before being asked questions about the potential impact on workers should a “sweat shop” factory close its doors and these employees (mostly women) be unemployed.
Q: “Would this then result in increased prostitution? Would their lives be worse?”
I think these questions are worth talking about openly because these are good questions to ask and I’m sure if one person is asking, many people are thinking it.
According to Amnesty International, there are almost 36 million slaves in the world today, many of whom produce the clothes we buy and wear.
As a society do we as leaders believe we are powerful enough to make a positive difference to the lives of others living as slaves, especially when the magnitude of the numbers can be so overwhelming?
As leaders with wisdom and consciousness, and as leaders who wish to make decisions from a place of integrity, I think the answer must be a POWERFUL YES!
One of my favourite movies, released in 2007, is Amazing Grace based on the true story of William Wilberforce.
If you wonder about the power of one I highly recommend this movie. It is fantastic!
I believe as individuals we can make a difference in the corrupt clothing industry by choosing to support companies that pay fair wages to their staff and everyone in the supply chain.
Reported by The Age last week (on the just released Ethical Fashion Guide): “According to the report, the production cost of a T-shirt in Bangladesh would increase from about 50c to 80c if workers were paid a living wage. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is currently US$68 ($88) a month.”
Producing clothing is a basic fee for service. Imagine if, living in Australia or any “Developed country”, you went to work for 14 hours every day for a month and at the end of the month you had 19% of the income you needed to simply live… not thrive, but merely survive.
To lead with integrity we need to be a voice. We need to take action.
- Pay an extra dollar for your t-shirt if you knew it went straight to the garment maker?
- Sign the Oxfam Heart Breakers petition which pressures Australian clothing companies to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord.
If you are concerned about the potential of increased prostitution, be conscious that the brands who are not complying will not change overnight. All change is a transition. Women and girls will not suddenly be driven into the streets. But… if we begin now and create a better tomorrow through our better decisions the positive change will be rippled – like a pebble thrown into a pond.
In NLP we are taught to accept the “model of the world” of all our clients and people we work with. We are also taught to believe to our very core that everyone is capable of excellence. If we hold that space and see their excellence, they too will believe in their excellence.
If we, as leaders, become apathetic to the issues we do become powerless, but if we choose to come from a place of power and make our decisions with integrity and believe excellence can be achieved, the way to a better future has already begun.
Love and light,
p.s Learn & Grow
Ethical Fashion Guide (released in April 2015): http://www.baptistworldaid.org.au/assets/Be-Fair-Section/Ethical-Fashion-Guide.pdf
ABC news: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-17/australian-fashion-industry-still-not-protecting-global-workers/6399698
World Fair Trade Organization: Facebook group
Oxfam Heart Breakers: https://www.oxfam.org.au/heartbreakers/
pps. At this time I didn’t talk about buying Organic cotton because that is a whole separate discussion point. I do encourage doing your own research – if you don’t want to do your own research into deadly GMOs and the very “dirty” cotton industry, then I strongly encourage buying organic cotton over non-organic as much as possible.