Compassionate Business

Women’s Economic Forum 2020 – Slovenia

Talk by Galia Orme – 7th February 2020

Expressing emotions, compassion and intuition in the work environment is often perceived as weakness:
how do we flip the script?

Throughout my entire career, which has been incredibly varied (I studied law in London, worked briefly in Investment Banking, then in the high tech industry in Israel and the USA, volunteered to support trafficked young women during my LLM studies in International Criminal Law and worked in sales and business development), I’ve consistently been told;  remember ‘head over heart,’ be measured,  always leave emotions at the door and don’t bring them to the work environment. But I am and always have been an emotional and empathic person, it’s nigh on impossible not to add an emotional element to anything that I do.

I’ve always struggled with the concept that one needs to be ruthlessly competitive in business to succeed, that we need to take advantage of others to make a profit. My intuition told me otherwise, as has my experience. We achieve so much more by collaborating and having a win-win approach that is mutually beneficial than exploiting others.

“Being ethical and compassionate in business benefits everyone, including the consumers”

After over 20 years of working in a very masculine, corporate world, where emotion = weakness I decided to walk away and set up my own business. I went with my heart, with what I loved…I set up a chocolate business, Choc Chick in 2009.

A chocolate business? How much more emotional can you get? Chocolate is emotion, it’s love, it’s sensuality, it’s joy, it’s comfort but the more I researched the supply chain, sourcing cacao and chocolate ingredients myself, the more I realised that I was entering a world that is rife with exploitation.

The cocoa industry has a terrible history of slavery, child labour, trafficking in humans and very low pay for farmers. I wanted to do things differently, ethically, compassionately and create a company that valued emotions, that cared about the origins of our cacao and was clear that there would be no exploitation in our supply chain.

I travel regularly to Ecuador and Peru, visit cooperatives and cocoa collection centres and have sourced our cacao directly. I’ve made friends with our suppliers and have met the farmer’s children and grandchildren.
These friendships, our respect and mutual love for cacao has benefited all of us.

My attitude is always win-win, I have a gentle approach, I’m never aggressive but I still get a good price for our cacao and so do our farmers. I work collaboratively with the processors that make our cacao powder and cacao butter and the chocolate factory that makes our vegan chocolates, they’ve helped make my recipes and ideas a reality. They are as happy as I am when the products come out well and are successful and it feels like we are all in this together.

Being ethical and compassionate in business benefits everyone, including the consumers. Consumer choice is emotional. People want to feel good about their purchases, they are aware of exploitation, sustainability and unfair practices in business. We are consciously choosing products that are ethical and environmentally responsible, that don’t harm our planet or the people producing the products we buy. From ethical fashion to electric cars to vegan and sustainable food products, caring is now a big part of our purchasing habits.