Earlier this year drama ensued as Uber’s CEO agreed to be one of President Trump’s advisors. Almost instantly calls to use our money power to boycott Uber by deleting their app and installing Lyft’s were all over social media. And it happened. Around 200,000 people ended up deleting the Uber app. What happened next? Nothing really, and yet something.
In response to the boycott, Lyft capitalized on the movement and promised to donate one million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union. This added to the fuss and encouraged people who hadn’t already deleted the Uber app to at least download the Lyft app – because, “look! They pledged something amazing!”
But how much of this is actual values-based business versus just business? Does it matter if a company is doing “good” with “just business” intentions? Do boycotts actually create sustainable change? Or are they similar to a lot of things in the social media world: trending one day and hard to find the next?
How to use your money power to make your point
Here is the straight-forward/bottom line answer: A Wallet Agenda works. Choosing to be a conscious spender and stay away from brands that do not reflect your values makes a difference. It is evident in the numerous historical and present accounts of boycotting methods that dismantled targeted company practices and systems.
In the 90s, uproar and a decline in sales due to Nike’s use of sweatshops internationally forced them to pay attention to their shoe factory working conditions overseas and create a corporate responsibility program that exists to this day. In that same decade of sweatshop activism, extreme public scrutiny caused changes in U.S. Department of Labor regulations when activists singled out Kathy Lee Gifford and Walmart’s clothing line that reportedly used child labor in their factories in Honduras.
More recently, Kraft stopped using artificial coloring in its products after consumers demanded change in 2015. In that same year, Mattel pulled its Seaworld Trainer Barbie after backlash from animal rights activists. Just earlier last month, Pepsi pulled its Kendall Jenner advertisement, after consumers took to Twitter to criticize the way in which the ad undermined social justice movements. These are great examples that prove that consumer money power is real and can impact what is sold to us and what we buy!
A Wallet Agenda isn’t something you have to do overnight, however. Paying attention to your money patterns and where you spend your money takes practice and a little research, so give yourself time.
Here are some ideas to get you started on creating your Wallet Agenda:
- Start Small: Research your go-to shopping choices. If you don’t buy your groceries from a local store or market, take time to research your grocery store. This can help you decide if you want to continue consistently shopping there or find someplace else that better aligns with your values. Same goes for the place you buy clothes, or whatever other ticket item you spend a chunk of chain on monthly. Often that’s either restaurants/food joints or clothes….or maybe Amazon, let’s be real. Take a second to look at where you spent your money last month and choose one other company to research their ethics.
- Movies: Sometimes we forget that watching movies also counts as spending. Being cognizant of who (director, producers, or company) made the movie you are going to see and what kind of agenda they have is a great Wallet Agenda item. For example, Pan, only made enough to pay back 10.3 percent of their production costs due to consumer boycotts that sprung up over the movie casting a white actress to play a Native American character.
- Big purchases: About to buy a car? Need a new TV? Researching the companies that sell those is a double-threat Wealth Warrior move, because you can compare the price for your big ticket item while you snoop on each company’s business ethics. You’re about to drop a lot of cash or take out a loan to give these peps, so make your money power count.
- Go local: If the environment and your community are important to you, one of the best ways to help your community flourish is to find ways to spend your money IN your community (i.e. not at big national chains but shopping at local businesses that put their resources back into the community in which you live). This could mean doing a little homework to find your community’s farmers markets, local banks or credit unions, local grocery stores, or just making sure you go to the funky ice cream joint down the road for your salted caramel kick.
It may seem intimidating but once you start thinking about your money power, you will see how you can have an even greater impact in this beautiful world of ours!
Image credit: Mirjana Jesic