04 Feb Our 2020 Impact Report
At #EthicalHour, our vision is simple: to unite the most vibrant, supportive and sustainable community of changemakers on the internet.
We’re here to create a world where “business as usual” is no longer a harmful thing for people and the planet.
By helping good businesses grow, we aim to:
Create a world where ethical and sustainable consumption is the default position for every consumer, because all businesses operate that way.
Build a future where business is a powerful force for good.
We believe in a world where businesses solve problems: for their consumers, for their community and for the planet.
Where instead of making people want things, they make things that people want.
Where instead of having more, they focus on giving more.
Our mission is to unite a community that shares in our vision, and to empower them to make it happen.
Read more about what it means to be a purpose first business, and how we’re creating a world where business is a force for good, in our manifesto here.
We are achieving this by:
- Training, supporting and connecting ethical and sustainable small businesses. Giving them the resources and expert advice they need to thrive, building ethical marketing strategies that help them compete in mainstream markets, and hosting a supportive community where productive collaborations can begin.
- Inspiring consumers to shop more ethically and sustainably, and citizens to campaign for change, by promoting purpose-driven brands and sharing educational resources and information about key issues in ethics and sustainability. We aim to “start conversations that matter” and make this information, and lifestyle choice, more accessible for all.
- Giving back to causes aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that our business treads lightly on the planet and has a positive impact wherever possible – particularly for causes aligned to our mission of empowering people to build businesses as a force for good, and in line with our commitment to tackling the climate emergency.
What have we been doing in 2020?
2020 brought new challenges to every business and community around the world, as we faced a global pandemic which triggered a recession, impacted supply chains and forced many businesses to close temporarily or even permanently.
As an online community, we were fortunate that our business operations weren’t impacted too much, but we pivoted quickly to ensure we were supporting our community members to be as resilient as possible through these challenging times.
It’s been a challenging year for everyone. We are grateful to have survived and to see so many of our community members continue to find ways to support their beneficiaries, make a positive impact and thrive even in the face of these challenges. We couldn’t be prouder of our amazing changemakers!
To help tackle isolation and support as many small businesses as possible, we added more free training sessions and group coaching support to our offering, and doubled-down on creating and promoting opportunities for our members to connect, collaborate and grow.
We continued to work with industry-leading experts to support our members, and were fortunate to secure some major publicity opportunities and awards to keep encouraging responsible, ethical and sustainable consumption at a time when consumer behaviour was changing rapidly.
Here’s our year in numbers:
- 10 free training sessions provided to ethical brands
- 4 talks and training sessions delivered at 3 UK universities
- 21 public talks, podcasts and media appearances
- 13 community masterclasses delivered by industry-leading experts to our members
- 8 group coaching sessions hosted to support our members
- 4 expert panel discussions hosted on ethical fashion, equality and sustainable development
Our Founder Sian Conway was shortlisted for 3 Digital Women Awards – Digital Woman For Good, Community Leader of the Year and Digital Woman of the Year.
She was listed as one of ‘40 Women to Watch in Tech’ and one of the 58 leading UK social entrepreneurs featured in the Social Entrepreneurs Index 2020.
Sian also won ‘Disruptor/Changemaker of the Year’ at the Vuelio Online Influence Awards, where she was also named UK Influencer of the Year 2020.
Across our platforms, we’ve seen an 11% growth in our audience size in 2020. We now reach over 61,000 people worldwide.
What we’ve been campaigning for this year:
COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, was postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic. Earlier this year it was announced that the UK (who will be hosting COP26) would be represented by an all-male leadership team of climate and energy ministers.
Women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Yet they are being shut out of the key decision-making processes that will inform how the world responds to this crisis.
In October 2020 we started a petition calling for #EqualityAtCOP26 – after a parliamentary petition (the only official way to challenge government decisions) was rejected. To date, this has had over 3,000 signatures.
In November 2020, we partnered with the charity Care International UK to support their letter to the government with 4 key steps the UK needs to take to ensure women and girls are put at the heart of climate action.
In November it was announced that Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan would join the team as international champion on adaptation and resilience, to improve the gender balance. However there is still a long way to go to form a leadership team that is truly equal and representative.
We are continuing to drive our campaign forward in 2021, with several of our members now writing to their local MPs to highlight the issue.
Fair treatment of independent retailers during Covid-19 lockdown
Right in the middle of the crucial Q4 holiday sales period, independent retailers in the UK deemed “unessential” were forced to close for a second national lockdown.
This handed an unfair advantage to supermarkets and large chain retailers who were allowed to stay open, selling both “essential” and “nonessential” products.
Independent retailers rely on Q4 to make as much as 80% of their annual revenue, so this was a huge blow at the end of a very challenging year, with much of the government’s grant funding failing to cover all the expenses and money needed to survive long term.
We supported ethical toy retailer Hellen Stirling-Baker to write a letter to the government pushing for clarity on the lockdown rules and encouraging more support for independents. This was co-signed by our Founder Sian Conway and Andrew Goodacre, CEO of BIRA (British Independent Retail Association) and outlined 3 recommendations that the government should consider to support independent retailers properly. Find out more about the campaign here.
Our annual #ShopEthicalInstead campaign was a huge success this year (returning for it’s 4th year!) – providing a positive alternative to Black Friday and using the noise around this mass retail event to bring attention to small ethical and sustainable businesses.
In light of the pandemic, we decided to provide all coverage in the campaign to brands for free this year, and also introduced an advent calendar to run the campaign into December (whereas in previous years it has ended on Black Friday) to give even more exposure to the businesses involved.
We also introduced Gift Guides as a new campaign feature in 2020 – releasing 4 curated gift guides on Instagram in November and December.
The campaign included brand features and shoutouts, a hashtag challenge encouraging small business owners to tell their story, showcase their products and celebrate their impact, and an educational campaign explaining to consumers why it’s so important and beneficial to shop small.
According to Business Mole, 32 million consumers in the UK supported small businesses during lockdown in 2020 – almost half the UK’s population! And 62% plan to stay loyal to the small businesses that helped them during the pandemic.
- The #ShopEthicalInstead hashtag reached over 1.7 million impressions in November and December
- Our campaign was featured in major press including Vogue Business, Ethical Consumer Magazine, Fashion Industry Insider and Edie
- We featured over 55 independent ethical and sustainable brands for free
- We achieved an organic reach on social media for the small business community that would have cost over $21k in advertising spend, according to the latest Facebook ads data.
You can read more about how we encouraged people to shop small this year in our #ShopEthicalInstead impact report here.
At the heart of #EthicalHour is our membership community.
For a small monthly subscription, Big Why Business Founders get the community, training, expertise and support they need to build a business that changes the world.
We have the most comprehensive learning library on the internet, specially tailored to purpose-first businesses, with masterclasses on everything from mindset and resilience, to marketing, business and impact measurement.
Every month we host new live masterclasses which are all available on demand in our resource library, and we draw on our network of industry-leading experts to bring our members to most up-to-date, impactful information.
We also connect our members to exciting publicity opportunities, funding and awards, and give them a private community hub online where they can get support and meet like-minded friends who understand what it’s like to run a business as a force for good.
Everyone in our community is working for people, planet and profit – with the Global Goals as their guiding star.
Our collective impact for the Sustainable Development Goals:
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form part of a 15 year agenda led by the United Nations to tackle the biggest global problems through collaboration between governments, the private sector, civil society and individual action. Many social enterprises and ethical businesses use the SDGs as a framework to measure their impact.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would create a more sustainable and prosperous future for us all. No goal functions in isolation – action in one area positively affects outcomes in another too.
To understand the contribution our community is collectively making towards the world’s to-do list, we have mapped the SDGs our members focus on the most:
Here’s where our community is making the most impact for the Sustainable Development Goals:
(These stats show the percentage of community members with this Sustainable Development Goal as their primary focus)
- SDG 1: Zero Poverty 1.4%
- SDG 2: Zero Hunger 1.4%
- SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing 1.4%
- SDG 4: Quality Education 5.4%
- SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy 1.4%
- SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth 34.2%
- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure 1.4%
- SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities 1.4%
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production 30.1%
- SDG 13: Climate Action 4.1%
- SDG 14: Life Below Water 4.1%
- SDG 15: Life On Land 12.3%
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions 1.4%
How our members rate us:
- 84% of members rate the quality of our training as “excellent”
- 83% of members rate the community as “really useful”
- 89% of members rate the quality of support as “excellent”
- 95% of members would recommend us to a friend
Based on member feedback, the community is helping small business owners in a variety of ways:
- Providing them with a sense of connection and helping them meet like-minded people “who get it” – reducing isolation and loneliness
- Upskilling them in marketing and increasing their business knowledge
- Giving them inspiration
- Increasing their confidence and mental wellbeing
The client and community member results we’re celebrating this year:
Through a combination of one-to-one support (working directly with our Founder Sian Conway) and from the training, resources and connections inside our community, we’re supporting ethical and sustainable small businesses to survive and thrive.
Here is a handful of the results our clients and community members are celebrating this year as a result of working with #EthicalHour:
- Achieving a 463% increase in social media followers and 200% increase in engagement by implementing a live video strategy
- Raising £3k in corporate sponsorship for an online event empowering entrepreneurs
- Raising over £51k to continue funding a community farm working with vulnerable adults
- Launched a successful Instagram influencer campaign which made over 250 product sales in one weekend
- Appeared in major press including: The Guardian, Stylist, The Ethical Fashion Guide, Metro, BBC Radio, BBC News, My Green Pod, Pebble Magazine and The Independent.
- Got recognised in the SEUK Roll of Honour 2020 and listed in the WISE100 Women In Social Enterprise List 2020.
Our membership community saw a 15% increase in memberships from 2019 to 2020.
As of December 2020, we’ve directly supported over 672 ethical and sustainable brands to date across our whole network (since #EthicalHour began in 2016).
This year we have published our second annual Climate Disclosure Report as part of our pledge not to work with climate intensive clients or industries.
In our first report (covering 2016-2019), we reported 3 potential climate conflicts:
- 0.56% of revenue came from the (small scale) dairy industry
- 0.15% of revenue came from timber, pulp and paper
- 0.18% came from plastics
In 2020, we are pleased to report that we have had no revenue from any of the carbon critical industries.
Reducing our negative impact:
Our office runs on renewable energy, and so does our website, thanks to Green Hosting. However, some elements of our community and digital presence rely on third party platforms and suppliers. We’ve used the website carbon calculator to calculate the carbon emissions caused by these platforms (based on the amount of traffic we receive), and partnered with Stand For Trees to purchase REDD+ Carbon Credits annually to offset their impact.
We’ve gone as paperless as possible and ensure that when we do need to buy paper products, we opt for recycled paper from FSC approved suppliers.
We publish our annual Climate Disclosure Reports, alongside our client engagement policy, to ensure we don’t work with carbon intensive industries.
Our Founder has moved her pension to a sustainable investment fund and in 2021 we have committed to offsetting the personal carbon footprints of all full time staff members through REDD+ Carbon Credits.
Giving back to good causes:
As well as supporting ethical and sustainable small businesses to scale their income, influence and impact, we are proud to be a purpose-first business ourselves, embedding positive impact for the Sustainable Development Goals in the way we give back.
In 2018 #EthicalHour achieved a 4 star rating from Support The Goals, which puts us in the top 4% of businesses for our commitment, plans, actions and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – this includes companies from the FTSE100 and FTSE250!
We invest a percentage of our sales revenue into charitable partnerships. This means we don’t have to wait until the end of the year to calculate our profits before making a donation, and enables us to fully embed giving into all areas of the business.
In 2020, we increased our charitable contributions by 32.6% from 2019.
At year end, we calculated that our 2020 charitable contributions accounted for 7% of our annual profits, with the remaining profit being reinvested to grow the business.
Our #GiveAsYouGrow programme is embedded in our membership community. Through our partnership with B1G1, we are able to align positive impact for vetted charities to transactions in our business, and measure the impact of these against the SDGs.
Since our membership community began in 2019, we have commited to planting a tree for every member, every month. This isn’t for carbon offsetting (tree planting can be problematic unless it’s managed properly), but is to provide income generation support to families in Kenya, and tackle environmental degradation in vulnerable areas.
Our tree planting through The Mango Tree Trust has positive impact for SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth, and SDG 15: Life on Land.
As of December 2020, we have planted 1,341 trees.
In September 2020, we were working on an engagement campaign to encourage more members to use our extensive resource library. This presented an opportunity to extend the reach and impact of our #GiveAsYouGrow programme too.
We committed to funding 1 day of business training for female entrepreneurs in Uganda (through B1G1) for every masterclass watched on demand, every month.
In the first 2 months, this increased engagement by 58%, and as of December 2020, we have funded 137 days of business training for female entrepreneurs in Uganda.
In 2017, we set up a Lend With Care account to invest a percentage of revenue into microfinance loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Our Founder Sian volunteered on a microfinance project in Sierra Leone in 2011, which inspired her to set up a fund, knowing what a difference these types of loans can make – not just to the entrepreneurs but to their entire communities.
Whenever a client hires us to work on a project worth over £1,000 (such as marketing strategies or VIP Days), we make a new loan through Lend With Care. As repayments are received from entrepreneurs we’ve already invested in, we reinvest these into new loans, so the positive impact continues.
- We have invested in 63 loans, which have supported 463 entrepreneurs
- This has supported 1,636 family members
- 271 jobs have been created as a direct result of these loans
- 81% of the loans have been made to female entrepreneurs
- 34 loans have been repaid in full
Our direct impact for the Sustainable Development Goals:
By purchasing carbon credits, planting trees, funding business training for female entrepreneurs and investing in microfinance loans, we are actively contributing to:
- SDG 1: No Poverty
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 15: Life on Land
Through our work championing ethical marketing and conscious consumption, we are having a positive impact for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and our membership community creates collaborations which impact SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals.
Our impact targets:
With 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we all have a part to play.
#EthicalHour have set the following impact targets which we will aim to achieve in 2021:
- Offset the carbon emissions of our online community – to be calculated at the end of the year using accurate website traffic data, using carbon credits purchased through REDD+
- Invest in at least 15 new microfinance loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries in 2021 – ensuring that at least 50% of these are for female entrepreneurs.
- Through our #GiveAsYouGrow campaign: plant at least 900 trees in 2021 as our membership community continues to grow, and fund at least 420 days of business training for female entrepreneurs in Uganda.
- Ensure that our charitable giving accounts for at least 10% of our profits at year end.