CEO Says Consumer "Shaming" Will Have "Terrible Social Consequences"

Be careful what you 'virtue-signal' for, is the message from one of the biggest names in the fashion and retail space.

While it's all well and good to proclaim 'bad man orange' at everything you may disagree with, or pile on policies that self-aggrandize (and divide your audience), Karl-Johan Persson, the 44-year-old H&M CEO and son of its billionaire chairman, is speaking out as a pattern of shaming that initially targeted air travelers spreads into more industries, including his.

The growing movement to shame non-virtue-aligned consumers represents a very real social threat. As Bloomberg reports, Persson, who has been running H&M for a decade, says his concern is that the movement seeks to prohibit behaviors.

Many of the protests are "about 'stop doing things, stop consuming, stop flying'." 

His fear is simple:

“Yes, that may lead to a small environmental impact, but it will have terrible social consequences.

According to the UN, the clothing industry is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined, so it is no wonder that social-justice-warriors are 'triggered'.

But, while Persson agrees that "we must reduce the environmental impact,” he chides that in the real world:

“At the same time we must also continue to create jobs, get better healthcare and all the things that come with economic growth.”

It's not like Persson is not doing his part, as Bloomberg notes that by 2040, H&M intends to be climate positive, which it says means reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than its value chain emits.