Polluted Profit: Understanding the Managerial and Ethical Considerations of Sustainability in the Fashion Industry
Business Administration, Management, and Operations
Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
This paper investigates the managerial and ethical considerations of sustainability to better understand the magnitude of responsibility of a single actor, companies within the fashion industry, by answering two questions: can businesses within the fashion industry operate sustainably? If so, are they obligated to? Data was gathered on the internal and external factors of the industry through case studies of four companies to gather information on the ability of companies within the fashion industry to operate sustainability in relation to the Paris Accord 2C target. It was determined that companies in the fashion industry have a moderate-to-high capacity to reduce their controllable effect on climate change, and the most salient feature in determining a brand’s sustainability commitment is managerial focus. Given these capacity assessments, this paper rejects the free market analysis presented by Norman Bowie, and asserts that businesses in the fashion industry should take an active role to mitigate climate change and pursue sustainable goals over and above what is required by law. Bowie’s free market analysis does not hold for companies in the fashion industry for two reasons: (1) overemphasized profit-maximization and (2) an underdeveloped regulatory environment.