Photo of Hot Desk Member for Ethical Practice Sorcha Perris. Sorcha is sitting outside on a cement block surrounded by green grass. It is sunny and she is in shorts and a t-shirt and is smiling at the camera.
Photo of Hot Desk Member for Ethical Practice Sorcha Perris. Sorcha is sitting outside on a cement block surrounded by green grass. It is sunny and she is in shorts and a t-shirt and is smiling at the camera.

Hot Desk Member for Ethical Practice – Sorcha Perris

18 October 2023

Civic House Coworking Studio has a fascinating and varied array of regulars with many sharing a strong commitment to social justice and change making. Hot desk member for ethical practice Sorcha Perris is one such user, and in our feature below, she tells us about her work with Ethical Consumer Magazine.

Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Hi I’m Sorcha, I’m a writer and researcher at Ethical Consumer. I split my time between working on our bimonthly magazine as well as working on consultancy projects – mostly with our screenings team. The magazine’s main aim is to help consumers make more ethical purchasing choices, we do this by looking at a range of companies, analysing policies and practices and comparing these across the board. My work with the screenings team mostly consists of producing reports of companies for clients who are interested in partnering with, sourcing from or working with said companies. The reports provide the client with an ethical check of the company they are interested in.

Can you tell us a bit about Ethical Consumer?
Ethical Consumer is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder co-operative based in Manchester. It is best known for its magazine which provides consumers with shopping guides and ethical ratings. Each shopping guide rates a range of companies across the following five main categories: Animals; Environment; People; Politics and Sustainability. We rate anything from chocolate to energy providers to toilet roll. The guides aim to help our readers make more ethically conscious choices across a range of consumer markets. Readers can also pick out what matters most to them, for example a company investing in arms might be more of a no go to one person than another – or some readers might be looking for cruelty free and fully vegan companies.

As Ethical Consumer is a cooperative we all work together on its management. We are a non-hierarchical, flat pay organisation and everyone’s opinion is valued. If someone is unhappy with a proposed decision, they get the opportunity to object and a revised idea will come back to the whole co-op. We work in a number of sub-groups and every month we have a co-op wide meeting where we discuss things of note from each group and bring any proposal ideas.

What are the best bits about your job as a hot desk member for ethical practice?
I’d say the people and the working environment. I’ve never been in a job where I’ve felt so supported. Everyone genuinely cares about how everyone is doing.  Also, every morning someone runs an online check in, this is a space where people can talk about all things un-work related. Sometimes we do games, sometimes one of the team runs a quick yoga session and sometimes we just chat. I enjoy this time as it keeps the remote workers connected. I also enjoy doing something I am passionate about. My work aligns with my values which is something I’ve found to be quite important.

Any challenges?
Yes, I think working in the above areas can be pretty tough. You can come across some upsetting stuff. What makes this worse is seeing the responses of companies and the government. Especially now, seeing one thing after another in the news, it can be difficult not to just fall into despair. But then sometimes we get to see the impacts of our work, even when this is on a small or local level, it does bring hope.

What attracted you to Civic House Studio Coworking space as a base for your work?
I’d been working remotely for over a year and needed to get out of the house. I checked out a few coworking spaces and Civic House stood out. I love the space – especially the brightness from the windows. Also I liked how it had character, a lot of the coworking spaces I saw were very corporate which is not really for me in my role as a hot desk member for ethical practice.

Can you tell us about what sorts of professional – or otherwise!- plans are brewing over the next few months?
I’m actually planning on going away for a few months in January. I’ve been wanting to get outside to do some conservation work. After that I’m planning to take a break, probably doing some workaways in Spain. My job is great but I need a break from the laptop.

Where can we find out more about Ethical Consumer?
You can check out our website and follow us on socials. We also publish a free weekly news letter. I’d definitely recommend signing up to that if you want to get a better idea of the things we do.

Anything else you’d like to add? 
If you want to know more about the companies behind the brands that you’re buying you should try a subscription to the magazine. I’ve learnt lots from working here and its not always bad – there’s lots of companies putting in real effort which is nice to see. I think all the bad stuff can make us feel apathetic – I definitely do sometimes. But I do think its important to remember you can’t do everything, trying to consumer more ethically shouldn’t leave guilt around the things you do consume that might be considered less ethical. Sometimes its not affordable, practical or accessible. Sometimes we all just want to indulge. Any effort and awareness is better than nothing at all.

Also keep an eye out for Ethical Consumer week Monday 6th-Friday 10th November. You can sign up for a range of online panels over the week. Also, if you happen to be in London on the 9th we’re holding our in person conference. You can find out more about the week and the conference here.