What You Need To Know About ‘Care Washing’ At Work

By Aisling O’Toole

If you have ever taken a job with a company based on how it sells itself as a great place to work, only to be brutally disappointed within a few weeks, then you have been the victim of care washing, a phenomenon that has risen in popularity post-pandemic.

You may already be familiar with the well-known phenomenon of greenwashing, whereby green PR and green marketing strategies are used to give the impression that an organisation’s products, ethics and policies are environmentally friendly.

Care washing is similar in that it is defined as “commercial branding strategies which commodify care and attempt to increase corporate profit”, and in practice, it can present itself in numerous different ways.

A company might shout about its support for families on its website––but not offer paid paternity leave in practice. It may promise employees subsidised training, but when paired with overwhelming workloads this training is impossible to complete. Or, it might boast about its lauded “speak up culture” that is more toxic than transparent.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Work report shows that workers have become more “belief driven” post pandemic, with 60% admitting that they are no longer willing to work for an employer where the ethos doesn’t match their own.

This change in how we work, coupled with the rise in quiet quitting, and the continued recruitment difficulties employers are having following the Great Resignation, means that the power balance has shifted.

Workers now hold more of the cards, with 65% expecting their employer to provide support for their work-life balance.

It’s this power struggle that has resulted in the rise of care washing, with companies saying all the right things to attract the right talent. So how can you differentiate between a company that truly cares about its employees, and one that is merely paying lip service?

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Recognising Care Washing

Beware of the red flags. Are there plenty of on-site perks such as gyms, free food and access to a chill-out space? While not always problematic, if these perks are used as a bargaining tool by a toxic leadership cohort, which is not offering any tangible benefits such as good PTO or health benefits, the company may be care washing.

Lack of communication can be another red flag. If workplace supports such as mental health resources or subsidised healthcare are on offer, do you know how to access these supports? If these perks are promised but how you can actually use them is never communicated, you’re being care washed.

Praising the wrong thing is also something to watch out for. Perhaps you have a colleague who works late every day, and is often held up as an example of how things should be done. If your manager praises overtime instead of addressing why a worker can’t achieve their goals within working hours, then this is care washing at play.

Recognising this sounds easy, but in practice it can be a little more difficult to tackle because a company might truly believe its own hype. Unlike a toxic boss which can be managed, a company in denial about its care washing practices is harder to deal with.

Find alternative employment

While 40% of workers are ready to blow the whistle on dubious HR practices, for the majority it is simply easier to find alternative employment.

If you’re looking for a working environment with real benefits and a supportive environment, the Professional Beauty Job Board should be the start of your search.

It is filled with opportunities across hundreds of beauty companies that are known to care for their employees’ wellbeing, as well as providing opportunities for progression.

Discover your dream career on the Professional Beauty Job Board now.

This article was produced in partnership with Jobbio.

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