When it comes to the environmental impact, all we talk about is consumer responsibility.
We also talk quite a bit about corporations, brands, governments, or financial institutions and their top-level leadership. But when will we begin to talk about individual professional’s responsibility?
Somehow, public opinion is locked into the idea that people just doing their jobs, people simply following orders are immune to the great injustices that too big to fail organizations blaze along their path. This immunity is valid for the working class, who live paycheck to paycheck. But the complacent, yet influential middle-class should be subject to some level of scrutiny. I’m talking about the well-educated, home-owning, vacation-taking, new car-driving, big tax-paying, hard-working class that built a safety net for themselves and maybe their kids. The smart and the bright, employed by powerful big brands, not at the top exec level, but on the broad mid-level.
Take a Coca-Cola campaign, for example, promising to switch some percentage of their production to recycled plastic. The environmentalist organizations go all day long about how such a move is a greenwashing stunt. But it is an effective deflector to dust off the brand image. Now, take the marketing and PR agencies that stage this stunt for Coca-Cola. The account executive, the creative director, the project manager, the content creator, the ad buyer, the data analyst, the market researcher. They are not at the top of the decision-making chain. But they are doing their jobs and getting paid well to ensure the success of this stunt. So how are they not held accountable for their impact on the Planet? Talking about the individual professional’s responsibility seems only fair in a world where the individual consumer is buried under the guilt of their shopping behaviors.
I’m planting this thought here briefly and would like to research the argument against it, the economics, and the public opinion dynamics further. I welcome your reactions.