To coincide with the launch of the world’s first guide on data ethics for brands, Data Ethics – The Rise of Morality in Technology, WFA asked four industry experts why prioritising people over data is so important for brands' long-term license to operate.
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From left to right: Vera Heitmann, IKEA Retail; Jenna Young, Visa; Rodrigo Cunha, AB InBev; Jacqui Stephenson, Mars.
‘Data ethics is the new green’
Vera Heitmann is Digital & Growth Leader – Public Affairs at IKEA Retail (Ingka Group). She joined IKEA Germany in 2013 and now is the global lead for the Public Affairs team of IKEA Retail (Ingka Group), with a strong focus on digitalisation.
For me, data ethics is the new ‘green’. As a society, we have the opportunity to get it right now and to incorporate ethical considerations into the future we’re building. It’s about being aware that the choices we make today will very likely have consequences beyond what we can understand today.
Being the trustworthy partner that our customers, employees and partners expect, demands ethical standards and a strong commitment to excellence and transparency – not just compliance – in the field of data use and the way new technologies and artificial intelligence are deployed.
With size comes responsibility and companies can lead by example, balancing business interest with the greater good. [With the WFA Data Ethics Board we] have the opportunity to create a movement promoting ethical use of data: there's strength in numbers.
‘It is akin to maintaining a moral compass of honest living’
Jenna Young is Director of Marketing Data Governance & Operations at Visa. She started her career in book publishing before moving into digital marketing for the financial sector. She’s part of a team building a strategic data framework at Visa.
Data ethics forms the bedrock of respectfully and responsibly managing personal – and often private – information. At an individual level, it is akin to maintaining a moral compass of honest living.
A company confident in the inherent value of its products and relationships doesn’t rely on sleight of hand or subterfuge to succeed. Today, when many businesses are operating in a digital grey area, the companies with a black and white approach to ethical data stewardship, with consumer and client trust built into their DNA, will earn the spotlight.
[The WFA Data Ethics Board] needs to walk the talk and work with transparent and consumer-focused partners, agencies and supply chains – ones that share Visa’s commitment to accountability, control and security.
‘Building trust with consumers is paramount for business success’
Rodrigo Cunha is Global Director, Digital Ethics at Anheuser-Busch InBev. He has driven the company’s worldwide compliance agenda on topics such as data privacy, antitrust and anti-corruption. Rodrigo created a framework for the company to implement and assess compliance with data protection laws worldwide and is now reviewing internal practices on the ethical use of AI.
Data ethics is a way of thinking about how and why to use data. It is about harnessing the power of data and taking care of human values at the same time.
As companies embrace technology and data as part of their business strategy, consumers will choose the brands that they trust. Data ethics is a fundamental part of this process.
The WFA has an important role to convince business leaders that building trust with consumers is paramount for business success.
‘The consumer is our boss’
Jacqui Stephenson is Global Responsible Marketing Officer at Mars Wrigley Confectionery. Jacqui leads Mars Incorporated’s responsible marketing strategy globally, which includes understanding what marketing and governance standards are expected in different markets. She works closely with Corporate and Public Affairs to ensure that marketing policies and standards are rooted in the real world.
For me, data ethics means ensuring that we are transparent with our consumers and give them meaningful control over their data while applying the principles of respect for human rights, non-discrimination, protection of vulnerable audiences, and safety when analysing and storing it.
Data ethics is an integral part of Mars’ responsible engagement with our consumers and goes to the heart of how we live by one of our key principles that ‘the consumer is our boss’. It is about more than just complying with privacy regulations and extends to the moral choices we need to make when collecting, buying, analysing and storing consumer data.
As markets transition towards a more data-driven economy, data ethics has become one of the most important topics for companies to get to grips with. Concerns over the proliferation of consumer data collection, the increased reliance on automated algorithms to analyse it and shape choices, and growing cases of large-scale data misuse are all rising – making it critical for companies to focus on data ethics in digital advertising.
As advertisers, we have an obligation to behave responsibly and respond to consumer needs and concerns with regards to the use of their data. This responsibility links very strongly with our ability to earn consumers’ trust. In the current environment of fake news, fake reviews and like-farms, it is increasingly difficult for consumers to know who or what to trust. We need to work together to find solutions that are trustworthy and designed as much as possible with privacy, transparency, integrity and consumer control by default.