The role of communications professionals in navigating ethical crossroads across industries

Whether for energy or agriculture, banking or finance, communication plays a pivotal role in shaping the narrative surrounding sustainability and the environment. Given the current discourse around greenwashing and fossil fuels, among other issues, values like transparency and trust have emerged as foundational principles that underpin the conversations between stakeholders as they navigate the complexities of transitioning towards more sustainable practices.

Spurwing recently attended the Clean Creatives panel discussion held in Singapore, where communications and advertising professionals discussed the disconnect between advocating for sustainability while promoting clients from environmentally impactful sectors. Read on for our takeaways from the panel.

The relationship between communications and sustainability remains complex

During the panel discussion, the speakers recounted their own personal experiences and ethical dilemmas while working with clients whose practices conflicted with sustainability goals. They highlighted the complexities of navigating such situations, sharing a range of approaches employed in response. These strategies varied from declining partnerships with clients who do not align with environmental objectives, to initiating and advocating for internal adjustment within those clients’ practices.

The conversation also touched upon the position of Singapore, where governmental efforts to foster sustainability are robust and well-structured. In this proactive context, communication professionals are increasingly becoming pivotal agents of environmental advocacy.

So, what will it take for communications professionals to be able to uphold the greater sustainability narrative, while remaining true to the values of their organisations and the clients they partner with as well as their personal beliefs?

The need for greater advocacy and integrity

Communications experts have the unique capacity to serve as catalysts for positive transformation by embracing a changemaker perspective. This entails a commitment to promoting transparency and adhering to ethical norms both within their organisations and in their interactions with clients. It’s not merely about consulting from the sidelines; it’s about becoming an integral part of the organizational fabric and using their influence to guide businesses towards more responsible practices.

To do this effectively, communication professionals should engage in honest and open dialogues with clients, advocating for sustainability and ethical operations. This proactive approach can lead to the development and adoption of policies that have long-term benefits for both the organisation and society as a whole.

Upholding regulatory compliance and leadership

Keeping abreast of regulatory changes and government initiatives, such as those led by local governments, is essential. Communications professionals should leverage these regulations as frameworks for enacting change within their organisations and guiding clients towards compliance with global standards.

Active engagement in sustainability conversations

Given their central role in shaping narratives, communications professionals must actively engage in sustainability conversations to stay informed about the ever-evolving developments in corporate responsibility and sustainability. By leveraging knowledge and insights, they can advise clients and create understanding of the importance of transparent communications and substantiating messages being shared.

Ultimately, communications professionals who adopt a changemaker mindset can play a pivotal role in steering organisations toward a future that values transparency, accountability, and sustainability. This involves a blend of strategic communication, policy advocacy, and collaboration with all stakeholders to foster a culture that prioritises ethical conduct and sustainable growth.

Communications, creative and advertising professionals are deeply entrenched in the sustainability conversation. However, the real impact lies in how we harness our skills, experience, and advice to guide clients to make a significant difference in the collective effort towards sustainability.

At Spurwing, we believe that communications has the power to shape a more sustainable future. Get in touch with us at to find out how we can help you have important conversations with the people who matter to your business.

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