Moral Leadership: Hot Topic in Marketingfacts Yearbook 21-22

Moral Leadership: Hot Topic in Marketingfacts Yearbook 21-22

In the 16th edition of the Marketingfacts Yearbook, the Moral Leader holds a prominent position. Our written Hot Topic places Moral Leadership in the marketing literature. The Marketingfacts Yearbook covers all aspects of (online) marketing in over 400 pages. Each year, there are “Hot Topics” which are chapters focusing on current developments and trends in marketing. Below is an overview of what is discussed and how it leads to increased moral leadership.

Blackbox, moral dilemmas, and filter bubbles at tech giants

The influence of technology on our lives is continuously increasing. The question of how individuals and organizations apply it, and what we consider responsible or not, becomes increasingly relevant. However, on what basis do we determine what we consider responsible? What are our moral beliefs? What does our moral compass tell us? The quote by Barbara Grosz, Higgins, Research professor at Harvard, encapsulates the essence of the introduction well:

What we need is for enough students to learn to use ethical thinking during design to make a difference in the world

Taking control over filter bubbles is our responsibility.

Rainbow in open fields surrounded bij trees. Depicting that it is importants of "Seeing" and addressing the "colored" world created by algoritms and filter bubbles
“Seeing” and addressing the “colored” world created by filter bubbles is a responsibility that falls upon everyone.

It was already evident in 2016 that tech companies were doing everything possible to keep us engaged on the screen. The documentary “What Makes You Click” reveals how techniques from the gambling industry are extensively utilized in the pursuit of more clicks and screen time. “The Social Dilemma” demonstrates that algorithms have been added in subsequent years in the battle for user attention. This results in filter bubbles whose exact origins remain unknown. It has become a black box, leading to various dangers in the following areas:

  • Health: Filter bubbles can contribute to give a distorted picture on norms about appearance, well-being and social activities potentially leading to incorrect or harmful decisions regarding personal health.
  • Discrimination: Filter bubbles can reinforce biases and discriminatory attitudes by limiting exposure to diverse perspectives, perpetuating stereotypes, and exacerbating social divisions.
  • Democracy: Filter bubbles can undermine democratic processes by narrowing the range of information available to individuals, limiting exposure to diverse viewpoints, and potentially influencing political opinions and decisions.

In the article, we delve into the responsibility of tech companies and examine our own responsibility as well. As Siri Berends suggests, “we need to move away from the perpetrator-victim frame.” As users, marketers, and brands, we must take responsibility ourselves, particularly if we value the mentioned themes. It is essential that we recognize our role in shaping the digital landscape and actively work towards promoting ethical practices, fostering transparency, and prioritizing the well-being of individuals and society.

We need to move away from the “perpetrator-victim”

A strong brand has a widely shared moral compass and acts accordingly

Building a moral values compass

In the Hot Topic, we are building a moral values compass that helps you to be ethical. It provides direction while being sensitive to the values and norms held by others, such as customers, stakeholders, and colleagues. It assists you in engaging in dialogue and aligning values compasses with one another. This makes you a moral leader whose ideas people follow, enabling you to have an impact and contribute even more to what you deem important for society.