Exploitation is an unfortunate side effect of many business operations. All too often, negative headlines call out companies who are guilty of maximizing profits at the expense of their customers, their employees, or our planet.
Although industries such as fashion, oil and gas, plastics, and technology tend to receive the most frequent attention for these wrongdoings, all businesses should be aware of the many forms of exploitation.
Common forms of exploitation in business
There are several ways businesses can exploit others.
Employee exploitation shows up as poor compensation, union-busting, dangerous working conditions, and even harassment or assault.
Companies may fail to properly reimburse communities whose resources they profit from. They may also take advantage of lacking environmental regulation in such communities as a means to skirt ‘inconvenient’ laws.
In the data analytics and advertising technology industries, consumer privacy abuse is common—companies track consumer behavior and sell their personal information.
Thankfully, expectations are changing.
A growing number of consumers want to support ethical, sustainable brands, and this has encouraged companies to take more action.
Tech workers, for example, are mounting pressure on their industries to take action against climate change. And demands for increased data privacy have moved companies like Apple and Google to ensure greater privacy protection.
But fighting exploitation is more than a surface-level endeavor. Much like greenwashing, some companies that claim to support climate justice or consumer privacy have yet to walk the walk.
How Hotjar is working to minimize exploitation
We pride ourselves on being strongly anti-exploitation. It’s our goal to weed out exploitation so we can consistently improve our company’s culture and earn our community’s trust. Here’s what we have done and are continuing to do to minimize exploitation.
We put people first
Employees are people, too. We expect them to have lives outside of work, and we actively support this. We empower employees to practice work-life balance by ensuring that accomplishing work tasks is never at the expense of employee wellbeing.
This entails more than merely making a declaration, however. As an example, Hotjar’s Wellbeing and Personal Development Budgets allocate funds for employees to care for their physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing and their personal growth.
The Personal Development Budget supports employees exploring any of their personal interests, from horseback riding to photography. Employees can spend their Wellbeing Budget on any activities that support their physical, mental, or emotional health, including gym memberships and regular massages.
Putting people first also means being trustworthy. We build trust by encouraging transparency from day one. For example, salary bands for job roles are openly available to all employees.
The key to fighting employee exploitation is making concrete plans that support your employees. Have a budget for putting people first and implement policies that prioritize people over deliverables.
We offset our environmental impact
As a carbon-neutral company, we’re passionate about climate justice and doing our part to protect the environment.
To show our commitment to the environment, Hotjar allocates 1% of revenue to our Giving Back fund. The fund supports causes like Black Lives Matter, Girls Who Code, and the LGBTQIA+ community, but the largest portion goes toward climate justice. As of May 25, 2022, our giving back account has reached just over €500k for various initiatives.
At the end of 2021, we developed four pillars for our Giving Back initiative—all of which are rooted in our passion for climate justice. These are:
Stop reliance on fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy: based on our 2020 figures, we are a carbon-neutral company
Stop deforestation and protect trees: we hit our goal of planting one million trees in 2021
Restore and rebuild biodiversity
Create a zero-waste culture
Not every company can take the same steps to protect the environment, but we can all do something. Run an audit to determine your company’s impact on the planet and your community, and commit to at least one way you can begin to offset the damage.
We protect our customers’ data
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we value the trust they have in us to responsibly protect their data.
Hotjar will never sell anyone’s data. Some platforms track users and sell their information to advertisers for customer targeting. We neither engage in cross-site tracking nor retain any information on customer preferences.
As an analytics tool, we do not provide private information to our customers about their website users. The information our customers gain by using Hotjar is data already accessible to them—we simply repurpose it into a more meaningful visual format.
Truth be told, there are many opportunities to exploit consumers. But if you value your customers, you’ll honor them by respecting their privacy, being honest, and helping them solve their problems.
They’ll reward you with loyalty.
Challenging exploitation is taking the high road
Standing up to exploitation can come with unexpected challenges. But it is in those moments that our values keep us grounded.
In 2020, we discovered that a Trump merchandise store managed by the Republican National Committee was using Hotjar. Although the site did not feature hate speech (which would be a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy), we made the decision to terminate their subscription because Donald Trump’s words and actions did not align with Hotjar’s anti-discrimination values.
Naturally, we were concerned about the potential public reaction and its impact on our business, but the response was surprisingly encouraging. Despite our fears, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
This experience showed me how easy it is to exaggerate the potential negative impact of taking a stance and be pressured into staying silent.
Exploitation is the easy path. Many companies have brilliant teams achieving complex goals, but they are unable or unwilling to invest in challenging exploitation.
We’re working against that. At Hotjar, we believe that with effort, anyone can build a company that does not exploit its workers, customers, community, or the planet.
That’s our goal.
Want to be part of the Hotjar team? 🔥
We believe people from different backgrounds, with different identities and experiences, make our product and company better. We would love for you to check out our current roles and keep following our jobs—we’re growing fast!
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