Being an Ethical Company: The steps Dignity has taken to look after it’s people and the planet

Being an Ethical Company: The steps Dignity has taken to look after it’s people and the planet

Why we chose to operate with people and planet in mind

We are proud to operate as an ethical business and have made several steps during our journey to achieve this including being a Living Wage accredited employer, an accredited Social Enterprise, a member of the Sustainable Business Network, join the Ekos Carbon Neutral programme as well as partnering with a New Zealand organic sanitary item supplier.

These accreditation and purposeful business choices have been a part of our business journey from when it began in November 2017.

Providing environmentally friendly products

Established: November 2017 

The first step we took on our sustainability journey is the choice of our sanitary items supplier. An easy choice would have been to buy tampons cheaply from Ali Express without knowing what was in the products and that they would spend 500 years in landfill. Three weeks into Dignity’s story at our business bootcamp, when we changed from creating an app to a buy one give one wellbeing initiative, we contacted Organic Initiative about being our sanitary item supplier. 

We told them we were three months old because we thought they wouldn’t take us seriously and they have since been an incredible supporter of our work. It was important to us to not only support the women in the workplace but to also support the environment. Their product is amazing and is biodegradable in 5 years. Their products are all certified organic cotton, fair trade and their OI Cups are medical grade single mold silicon of the highest quality. OI is an amazing NZ success story and we're really proud to partner with them.

Offsetting our carbon emissions 

Established: April 2018 

The next was becoming carbon neutral. With ANZ coming on board, we had to scale up our logistics from storing boxes at co-founder Miranda’s flat and hand delivering them to our customers, to having a storage unit and a courier company. 

However, when we found out that the couriers run on diesel, we wanted to offset these emissions – we googled carbon neutral NZ and EKOS came up. They support all sorts of amazing reforestation projects and are supported by other organisations such as Les Mills and Thank You Payroll.

We've now been proudly carbon neutral for almost two years and the point I'm keen to make is that this decision was alongside the decision with changing our logistics. The environment is a business as usual consideration to us, it's not a ‘nice to do’.

 Why a living wage is a fair wage

Established: April 2018 

The third decision was to pay a living wage. There are four of us in the Dignity team and we work a mix of part-time and full-time for Dignity. 

Paying a living wage is about giving your employees fair remuneration for the work they do, so they can pay for rent, groceries and feel valued. It's about not just paying the minimum that you can get away with, rather than paying the amount that demonstrates the commitment you have to your employees' wellbeing and livelihoods.

Being a member of the Sustainable Business Network

Established: April 2018 

We had the pleasure of being introduced to Laurie Foon from the Sustainable Business Network early in our journey. Anyone who has met her knows how amazing her passion is for the environment and we felt we wanted to be on a continuous learning journey to be a sustainable business. 

Founded in 2002, the Sustainable Business Network is the largest and longest-standing organisation dedicated to sustainable business in New Zealand.

As a member we are one of the over 550 other businesses in New Zealand that are working to see New Zealand be a Model sustainable nation. The aim of being a part of this is to connect, inspire and act with others to contribute to making New Zealand a more sustainable nation.

Avoiding Impact Washing, how we can how our purpose really is our mission and not just profit

Established: December 2018 

Late 2018, the Dignity team went through a rigorous process to become a certified social enterprise with the Ākina  foundation. This involved ensuring that what we do is consistent with us being bound by our mission as opposed to profit or maximising return to shareholders.

With the certification logo, as a corporate or individual you can understand there has been a process of certification that has occurred to make sure we are genuine, driven and most importantly mission bound as an organisation - in our case this is towards providing access to sanitary items to those in need and working towards eradicating period poverty.

A growing trend is for some companies to be social washing or impact washing, the Ākina Foundation wrote a really important blog on this and it is important to understand the real reasoning behind why companies would use social issues to promote their brand.

What does this mean for our business? Are these choices a massive sacrifice?

The choices we’ve made to be an ethical company are part of who we are and the change we want to see in the world. Social good can’t be at the expense of the environment or staff well-being.

With all these commitments to our employees paying the living wage, using organic sanitary items and being carbon neutral we have still been able to achieve incredible impact in the community.

You can read more about our impact in our 2017/2018 Impact Report here.

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The Global Movement for free sanitary items in schools

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