Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.
(1) Moving Average
Image provider Shutterstock has found that brands are increasingly moving away from using stereotypes of the average family (white, heterosexual, and 2.4 children) in an effort to avoid discrimination and better reflect society. The survey showed that almost half of marketers have used more racially diverse images over the past 12 months and that 32% have used more images of same-sex couples in the same period. An advert from retailer Smyth’s that promotes gender neutrality on toys was the best-performing ad of last month amongst the general public according to YouGov, suggesting consumer appetite for progressive media. We’re seeing this shift in approach play out on our screens this Christmas season: John Lewis’ annual ad (featured in this Friday 5) starred a black family for the first time, and Amazon used a vicar and an imam in their newly-released spot to promote unity amongst all cultures. We expect to see more of this kind of representation and will keep our eyes peeled over the coming weeks for the diversity that is today’s reality finally making it to marketing.
(2) Industry Own Goal
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that Michelin-starred TV chef Michel Roux Jr has been paying some kitchen staff at his Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche a wage as low as £5.50 an hour – well below the £7.20 national living wage. The kitchen does not operate a shift system, so all chefs work every service the restaurant is open. Days can begin as early as 7am and end as late as 11.30pm, with chefs getting just an hour off between lunch and dinner services and sometimes as little as 15 minutes to eat staff meals. Chefs also said that they did not receive any share of the 13% service charge added to diners’ bills. Our friends at the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) have called the revelation “a massive own goal” for an industry with a huge skills gap desperate to attract and retain quality employees. The SRA has also pointed out that in a 2014 survey it found customers cared more about treatment of staff than issues such as animal welfare and waste of food. Though the focus of Friday 5 is generally on instances of progressive business, stories like this serve as a good reminder that it’s important to get the foundations of good business in place before trying to innovate further outside the box.
(3) Shazam for Mosquitos
Stanford University students have developed technology that enables simple mobile phones to tell one type of mosquito from another by their hums. Calling their project “Shazam for Mosquitoes,” after the phone app that identifies music, the students showed that phones could record mosquito wing beats accurately enough to distinguish, for example, Culex mosquitoes, which spread West Nile virus, from Aedes mosquitoes, which spread Zika. Given that even older flip phones are sensitive enough to do the job, phone users around the world could send sound samples of the mosquitoes that land on them, and the data could be collated to build a distribution map that tracked the spread of mosquito-borne diseases across the globe. We think that the best initiatives are often those that empower, and this is a great example of technology being used to involve those affected by an issue in its potential solution (or, at the very least, its mitigation).
(4) What Women Want
The winners of Editorial Intelligence’s Comment Awards 2016 were revealed this week. Now in its eighth year, the annual ceremony recognises and celebrates the UK’s best print and online commentators and their editors. The prestigious Comment Pages of the Year award was retained by the Financial Times, and the Sports Commentator of the Year award (sponsored by Good Business!) went to Matthew Syed of The Times. The ceremony unexpectedly attracted some controversy when the winner of the ‘eiDigest Women’s Voice Award’ declined it as she did not feel a separate category to represent women’s work was necessary. While Editorial Intelligence have gone back to her explaining the award wasn’t necessarily for women but more for commentary on women’s issues, the incident has reinforced how topical the issue of gendered awards is at the moment. In another recent example, Glamour magazine faced criticism earlier this month for including Bono on its annual Women of the Year list. While we think all will agree on the need to make sure women’s work is appropriately recognised, it seems that society is divided on the role of women-specific initiatives and accolades. Brands and organisations will therefore need to tread carefully in this space and expect scrutiny no matter how they address levelling the playing field between genders.
(5) Greening the Net
An international group of developers, designers, data hosts, and sustainability experts have built a beautiful site that shows people the environmental impact of their website development and internet use. Energy-hungry data centres and network infrastructure that power the internet will soon be responsible for nearly 1 billion tonnes of CO2 – or 10% of global electricity usage – and this group want those building the web to make it greener by designing websites that are more energy-efficient and by using servers and web hosts that are powered by renewable energy sources. The website leaves the reader not just with information, but challenges them to take action and provides five immediate steps they can take to start making a positive impact. This is a great way to communicate a potentially-complicated message simply, and could serve as a powerful call to action as more companies start to measure, report and set targets around their scope 3 (AKA indirect) emissions.