Five principles of ethical funeral care

Someone recently described Full Circle as an ethical funeral director – and that got me thinking.  We have a very clear purpose and are a certified B Corp (Business for Good) but what is “ethical funeral care” and can I put my hand on my heart and say that we deliver it?

Funeral directors in the UK are currently unregulated, which means the industry does not have minimum standards or a code of conduct to work towards. There is also no requirement for those working in funeral care to belong to a trade body.  So, in my quest to find out what “ethical funeral care is”, I didn’t have a checklist to compare us to (which is a shame because I do love a good “gap analysis”).

So, after some contemplation I can share five principles that drive everything that we do, and which have led me to conclude that we are indeed an ethical funeral director (phew).

1) We never do anything that we would not be willing to discuss

Our benchmark is to never do anything that we would not be happy to share with a family we are supporting. This includes price, practice and limitations. By operating with compete transparency and integrity, we can have more meaningful conversations and make it easy for people to have the funeral they want.  This is also a very helpful key principle when faced with difficult and sensitive decisions or circumstances.

There are very few things that are not possible when arranging a funeral, although there are sometimes restrictions due to locations, budgets, timings and external factors. We always share every bit of practical information we can so that people can make informed choices. If there are things they would like to consider, we will gather all the facts and present them clearly.

2) We commit to creating a work environment where people can thrive

Our team members come from all walks of life, and we love to watch them grow in confidence with us, particularly if they have shifted from a very different career path. We want everyone to be their best selves, which means creating a positive space where they can feel they have a voice, to contribute ideas and ask for help.  I can testify that I spent a not insignificant amount of time “worrying at” this, and committed to being as inclusive, collaborative, open and kind as I can.

Being a funeral director is incredibly satisfying work, though we recognise it can also be emotionally tough. By giving our staff time to reflect and the support they need, they can develop the resilience to give others strength to navigate through bereavement. We want them to feel confident that their mental wellbeing is being cared for as well as their training and development.

3) We consider the planet in everything that we do

Our planet needs us to make the right choices, in everyday life and in business. We have proven our commitment to being the best we can be in terms of environmental impact and sustainability by becoming the first UK funeral director to achieve B Corp status. We now share the knowledge gained through the rigorous accreditation process to help other businesses succeed in their B Corp journey, by speaking at events and being proactive members of the Yorkshire B Local movement.

If you are interested in learning more about our B Corp journey, you may be interested in reading about becoming a B Corp funeral director.

The environment is taken into consideration in everything that we do and we measure everything that we can with a view to reducing out impact when possible.  Our enthusiasm to tackle the sticky “scope 3” problem resulted in us leading a crowdfunding campaign to fund independent research into the environmental impact of our supply chain.


5) We want to do the right thing and deliver the best possible care

Every family we support is unique and our priority is ensuring that their needs are met.  As everyone has different needs, we work to tailor our support and are flexible in style and tone.  This means that we don’t have packages and nothing is standardised – we don’t hold stock or have preferred providers as we believe this will ultimately compromise choice.  This means we need to have a larger team than other funeral directors of our size – but we believe that gives us the depth and breadth that people need and deserve.

Within funeral care, one of the ways we try to do the right thing is by leading and participating in research, which we know begins to provide an evidence base to inform future regulation, training and quality assurance for the industry.

We also collaborate with local businesses and third sector organisations to share learning and good practice in doing the right things as a business in Yorkshire.  Ethical businesses in all sectors face similar challenges about how to have the best possible impact, reduce their GHGe, strive for a more ethical supply chain and decide how to give what they can in the most impactful way.


What do you think?

A always, I would love to know what you think… are these the most important five principles?  have I missed anything?  Has reading this sparked a thought or suggestion about how we can have a bigger impact for people, planet or team?

And, watch this space – I hope to be able to share the community funded green funeral report by Planet Mark soon… I know it is going to be interesting, thought-provoking and a hope it helps contribute to a tipping-point towards a greener funeral sector!


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