Honesty and Authenticity

In Customer Experiences with Soul we place the trinity of authenticity right at the very heart of the holonomic circle. This is of central importance, since if you are not authentic, neither will your purpose be.

If you look at our diagram above, the three circles do not fully overlap. We drew our diagram this way to show the way that while we are always striving for the maximum coherence between what we say, what we mean and what we do, in practice this is almost impossible to achieve.

Credit: The Honest Company

So it was interesting this week to read about the Honest Company, founded by Jessica Alba, a Golden Globe-nominated actress whose career includes roles in films such as “Fantastic Four” and “Little Fockers,” as well as television series like “Dark Angel,” “The Office” and “Entourage.” On the company website she writes about the responsibilities she feels as a mother:

When I became a mom, I finally became the person I am, that I always should have been,” she says. “It’s the most satisfying job in the world. But, it can also be overwhelming and confusing. I created The Honest Company to help moms and to give all children a better, safer start.

In their list of principles, the first one is “Create a Culture of Honesty”:

We are serious about honesty – both as it applies to the integrity of our relationships and in being true to you. And, it’s a standard we encourage throughout our staff, stakeholders, and customers. But, that’s just the beginning. In all we do, we want to make each day a little more fulfilling, inspired, and downright better.

In Customer Experiences with Soul we write about a number of different companies who failed to have coherence between what they said, what they meant and what they did. The results are heavy fines for mis-advertising, a loss of brand value and good will, and in some instances, the risk of the collapse of the entire company.

It was therefore quite ironic, given their name, to see that the Honest Company has had to settle a class action for $7.35 million over false claims that its products were natural. As the Fashion Network reported:

The Honest Co. presented its plan to a New York court last week. The proposal would designate a $7.35 fund for the class action lawsuit. Consumers would receive $2.50 per eligible purchase either as payment or as a credit. Under the settlement agreement, consumers without receipts would be awarded up to 10 credits or payouts. There is no limit to collect for consumers who can present proof of purchase.

The case began when it was revealed that many of The Honest Co.’s core products contained the toxic chemicals expressly excluded on their labels. Products included bubble bath, children’s toothpaste and cleaning products. The Honest Co. marketed the products to have “no harsh chemicals (ever!)” but consumers found the products actually contained the very ingredients they thought they were avoiding.

Source

As we write in Customer Experiences with Soul, customers are now responding to those companies who are genuinely transparent in all that they do. It is not enough to talk about your company’s purpose and mission. Everyone in the organisation has to live it. Absolutely everything communicates something about your business and ultimately your brand, which in turn affects people’s perception of it.

In our networked age, people are coming together to demand a new level of transparency and ethics in public and commercial spheres. Brands are reacting to this, with responsible brands not only talking about being ethical, but who actually are ethical, and who are practising what they preach.

Featured image credit: The Honest Company

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