There are many pathways for improving the lives of animals but influencing corporations to embed animal protection values into their production practices, supply chains, marketing efforts, and research and development activities may be the most consequential. In the United States, the largest economy in the world, there are billions of animals used annually, and many of the harmful uses of animals are perfectly legal.
The Karner Blue Center for a Humane Economy (“the Center”) is the first organization in the field of animal protection with the singular focus on influencing the workings of businesses to forge a humane economic order. It will work with corporations to remind them of their responsibilities to animals in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and embrace innovation.
The Center will work with companies in a collaborative and cooperative way, recognizing that purging animal cruelty from their enterprises reduces institutional risks and better aligns them with the values and expectations of their stakeholders. This non-profit organization is aligned and working closely with Karner Blue Capital (“KBC”), which is building a series of portfolios for individuals to invest in. The for-profit entity is rigorously benchmarking 15 industries according to animal welfare performance and controversy scores, and as a related entity, the Center will leverage that framework and its research to urge companies to embrace humane business practices.
One need only to look at the dissolution in recent years of Ringling Brothers circus or SeaWorld after facing controversy and concern about the companies’ uses of animals. Or, to take a more positive frame, one can look at the increasing number of cosmetic companies marketing their products with a “No Animal Testing” promise or the fashion companies, from Armani to Gucci, that have forsworn fur and replaced their garments with alternative textiles. The companies embracing animal protection are positioning themselves more favorably in a culture where consumers are alert to animal protection.
There are vast numbers of animals used directly or indirectly by the enterprises of food and agriculture; research and development for cosmetics, pesticides, chemicals, drugs, and other commercial products; the pet trade and wildlife trafficking; tourism and transportation; forestry and fossil fuel or mineral extraction; and others. There are changes afoot in every one of these industries because of animal welfare and conservation concerns. The Center and KBC – by examining animal welfare issues and creating industry benchmarks built around these issues – will be catalysts for more sweeping changes to benefit animals and to enhance bottom line performance for shareholders and other key stakeholders.
As individuals and as a society, we must feed and clothe ourselves, fulfill our energy and transportation needs, enjoy family and pursue recreational experiences and ventures, and realize other quality of life metrics. To do that and to respect animals, we needn’t turn back the clock and revert to lifestyles that resemble those of 1950 or 1850 or some earlier generation. By embracing innovation, we commit ourselves to continuous improvement without causing massive collateral impacts on animals and the planet and its air, water, forests, and soil. Indeed, no responsible business leader has the aim of hurting animals, but a wide range of uses of animals has long been convenient and accepted. In an era where we’ve had revolutions in thought in society and in the workplace on race, gender, criminal justice reform, and environmental protection, it is also time for business to come to terms with the widely accepted ethos of treating animals properly.
While animal rescue is essential to aid animals in crisis, that work, measured by the cumulative efforts of thousands of animal-care organizations, can benefit the lives of tens of millions of animals. Our economic history is a litany of dramatic and almost unimaginable changes that became mainstream and have upgraded human existence, from the printing press to the internal combustion engine and aviation to personal computing and the digital photograph.
Just about every enterprise built on harming animals today is ripe for disruption. Where there is a form of commercial exploitation, there is an economy opportunity waiting for a business doing less harm or no harm at all. Factory farming, for example is the creation of human resourcefulness detached from conscience. What innovations in agriculture might come about by humane resourcefulness guided by conscience?”
The Humane Economy
Most changes-to-come in industry won’t be nearly as dramatic or disruptive as the printing press or the light bulb or clean meat. When it comes to the animals, these changes will involve new ways of handling or housing animals or other kinds of replacement innovations. All of them will be driven though by a combination of moral purpose and human innovation that are the formula for driving better outcomes for animals. These forces will cast cruelty aside, treating the long era of hurting animals as an ugly stepping stone to a new economy and new norm when it comes to our relationship with animals.
Every company with a humane-minded ethic infuses the culture with animal wellness sensibilities, giving consumers options to act more faithfully on their values and creating wealth.
Please come join us.
Wayne Pacelle, author of The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals, is president of The Center and founder of Animal Wellness Action.