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10 Faux Progressive Companies ... with Some Dirty Secrets

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Fair Trade & Social justice page and our Breaking The Chains page.


What makes a company "progressive"? A CEO's lefty politics? A dedication to people over profits? A solid environmental track record?

Many companies have earned credibility among progressives by marketing themselves as "different" (Apple), "green" (Seventh Generation), or "anti-sweatshop" (American Apparel), despite having a poor track record with the environment, sexism, union busting, monopolizing, and more. These companies are boosting revenues by tapping into the growing demand for socially-conscious products and businesses, especially among the wealthy, well-educated sub-set of progressive consumers.

I rounded up information on ten of the best-known companies that should be a disappointment to progressive consumers:

1. Apple -- Apple has long positioned itself as the computer company for creative types -- people who "think different" and are the antithesis of square, monopolistic Microsoft. That marketing has worked well for Apple; left-leaning cities like New York City and San Francisco are positively dripping with iPhones and MacBooks.

Although Apple products are beloved by progressives, Apple doesn't uphold a number of progressive values. For instance, the company has sneaky ways of getting around having to offer affordable health insurance to many of its workers, including including those who work 40 hours a week. Maddeningly, when workers voiced concerns about insurance and working conditions at the company, Apple managers responded by saying that working at Apple "should be looked at as an experience."


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