Sunday, 11 November 2012

Commercial Success + Development Impact...

= Inclusive Business!

Check out my most recent article for the Ethical Fashion Forum SOURCE here.

Full credit goes to the report's author, Anne Stubert of Corporate Citizenship.

It seems an industry ripe for inclusive business models so I, for one, will be watching the fashion sector for clever companies who choose to adopt them sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cat o' Nine Tails

Supposedly one of the most haunted places in Australia, the Fremantle Prison is now an important site of historic value. It held prisoners until the early 1990s and conditions weren’t great. So bad were they, in fact, that they have been called ‘the worst in the world’.
I learnt on the ‘torchlight tour’ on Halloween that many British and aboriginal criminals built the prison from limestone originally. There were 44 hangings in the prison and many suicides, as well as both murders and ‘unexplained deaths’ inside the prison.
It was a place filled to the brim with violence, illness, humiliation and misery. The most violent division was actually often the one for ‘non-violent’ crimes because there, criminals who were practically harmless (perhaps they had not paid their tax once) were kept in quarters with stronger criminals. Upon arrival, prisoners were communally strip searched and washed. They were asked their profession and crime. The Officer judged whether their occupation put them at risk- if they had formerly been a policeman for example, then they would be kept in a single secure cell. Apparently some of these troubled souls still live there, chained to the stones inside which they met their end.

With no plumbing, each shared cell had a bucket. With no air conditioning, cells could reach 50 degrees in summer. For me this raised questions about human rights and welfare- even if their crime was horrendous, is it right that they are kept for so long in such inhumane conditions? How much should they be punished? Where is the line?

One of the things that struck me was the flogging which took place in a courtyard purpose built for punishment. If a prisoner broke the strict prison rules, they may have been ordered ‘100 lashings’ with a cat of nine tails whip. One strike of that across the back and there would be nine long welts each the width of a finger.

There would be a doctor standing by who was there to judge when the prisoner was on the brink of death and to order him down from the wooden posts to which he was tied at that moment. Most could take about 15-20 lashings. Next, the prisoner would be untied and laid on his front so that salt, a cheap disinfectant, could be rubbed directly into the wounds. They would be allowed to recover for a few weeks and as soon as the scars had more or less healed, they would receive the next set of lashings.

And so it would go on…until they reached their 100.
Sometimes it would take over a year.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

$100 million

I sadly won nothing on the horses at Melbourne Cup today in Perth but still have a chance at the Oz Lotto for $100 million tonight!

I have already decided that if I win I will spend $1 million on myself, family and friends. Then I will use the other $99 million to set up 1) a foundation and 2) a venture capital fund which would invest in organisations that have as their primary aim reducing carbon emissions and/or waste to landfill, with evidence that the reductions will be significant. Organisations who help developing communities and conserve natural habitats will also be looked upon favourably.

I have yet to confirm a name for the foundation and fund- the "Dr not-so-evil Fund" doesn't quite cut it...perhaps I can decide after I win.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Killing your employees is a little extreme?

Really loved the film Water For Elephants- I know it's an old one but I only recently watched it. Thanks to a bit of Reese, RPatz and the hero of the whole show being an elephant called Rosie, I was delightfully drawn into the world of the early 1900s travelling circus. One could almost smell the straw, the candy floss and the heat of the stage lights.

That circus was also a pretty good (or bad) example of how NOT to run a company sustainably. As the whole purpose was to make more and more money, this meant that both people and animals were worked until they dropped, and in poor conditions. With 'star attractions' coming and going, it was all very well when times were good but in the hard times, cuts were made in more innovative ways. In the film, circus employees were fired when the company was not making enough money to cover their costs, by simply throwing them out of the fast-moving circus train with an unlikely chance of survival! Drink, violence and corruption common backstage, none of this was apparent to audiences who were wowed with all the glitz and glamour of a fantastic big top spectacle.

Luckily today we have more stringent measures for understanding the operations of a business, even when it is all rosey on the surface.