The Humanity Index

Upward Mobility

The previous article introduced Impact Consumerism, a movement to encourage ordinary people to vote with their wallets. To give their money to companies that align with their outlook.

The hope is for each consumer to be able to make their own choices about what’s important to them. That we can buy from companies supporting issues we care about, and avoid companies that don’t.

It’s certainly not a new concept. Boycotting has a long history of shaping culture. Wether you call it ESG, social, or Woke investing, it is a similar concept.

But the reality in 2023 is that, despite our culture drowning in data, we as consumers have very little useful information to make informed purchasing decisions at the company level.

We can’t vote with our wallets if we don’t know what we’re voting for.

In a recent survey of more than 3,000 US adults, 86 percent felt that companies don’t always live up to their pronouncements of caring for “all stakeholders.”

If we as consumers want to align our beliefs with our shopping habits, we need a “score” we can look at and see where a company stands.

That “report card for business” I’m calling The Humanity Index.

We look at Amazon reviews before buying a product, we look at Yelp reviews before we dine out.

We should be able to understand a company’s full impact on society before we give it our money.

For example, if you care about the environment, you should be able to easily understand what companies are emitting the most greenhouse gasses, being irresponsible with their waste, causing unsustainable logging, sourcing from stave labor, etc.

Or, if you believe a thriving middle class is important, you should be able to easily know if companies are paying employees a living wage. Or compare the average wage (or CEO salary) of a company and its competitor.

Do you think money has an outsized effect on politicians, the government, and the rule-making process? By having more information about political donations, or what regulations or laws a corporation is supporting, we can bring more transparency to the influence of money on politics and government. We might be able to restore a modicum of trust to the political arena 1we can dream right.

In short, consumers need a way to compare companies in terms of their overall impact on the world.

At its heart, The Humanity Index is a movement to create more accountability and transparency in business. A way for consumers to understand the impact a corporation is having on society as a whole.

The government already forces businesses to make public all kinds of accounting figures to help the investor class evaluate a company.

But there’s nothing like that for the average consumer. The closest most of us get to hearing directly from a company is through commercials. And the bigger the company’s advertising budget, the more it can influence public opinion.

I’m not advocating for more government regulation. The government is already overwhelmed and doing a pretty bad job in most important areas.

I’m suggesting that consumers have the power to encourage businesses to be more transparent and accountable.

We don’t need new government regulations or departments forcing companies to do anything.

Western tradition holds that it’s up to the free market to reward companies that tell the best stories.

We need to make businesses explain their overall impact on society in a clear, transparent way.

We need businesses that help us deal with the issues were facing. That provide real leadership toward reaching our goals.

That is what The Humanity Index is about. Consumers and companies working together, so that each can understand the other better.

(Good) Companies want a better understanding of what’s important to their customers. And many consumers want to know more about how a company does or doesn’t affect the issues they care about.

We need to promote those conversations. We need to enlist businesses to help us understand their full impact across society.

We need to build trust between the average person and the big corporations that affect the world.

Not all companies will take part. In fact in the beginning it’s likely many established companies will vehemently resist.

Nobody who is comfortable likes change.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Frederick Douglass

But with a little faith, the creative destruction of the free market can gradually reward companies that are doing more than extracting every last penny they possibly can, and are instead taking a more holistic view of their overall impact on the world.

Right now The Humanity Index is little more than a concept, some words, and images on my computer.

It’s the third component of the flywheel of progress I’m affectionately housing under the Less Bad brand. The other components are How We Fix Everything and Impact Consumerism.

Building out these three pillars is no small undertaking, nothing one person can do alone.

Before any of that can happen, the first step is to build enough of an audience to help figure out how to pay to build everything out.

In the last article in this series, I’ll exlplain “now what.” My plan for the foreseeable future.

If you’ve heard enough and are ready to help out, find out how you can support Less Bad.

Otherwise, watch your inbox.

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