HR plays a crucial role in demonstrating an organisation’s commitment to and recognition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and with good reason – CSR has a proven impact on employee engagement and retention.
Whilst each year many organisations endeavour to take part in at least one major CSR initiative, demonstrating a daily commitment to recognising a company’s impact on society is pretty much unheard of – or is it? How about if every time an employee brews a cup of tea or coffee, they could rest assured the organisation is going the extra mile in considering their impact? Enter Fairtrade status for workplaces.
Becoming a Fairtrade workplace is a way to support and promote fair trade and be recognised for the commitment. Fairtrade ensures equitable trading partnerships, and this is achieved by providing better trading conditions through stable, minimum prices for products and resources which could otherwise have been produced under exploitative circumstances. As the vast majority of tea and coffee is sourced from developing economies, ensuring that a fair price is paid to the producers is paramount to safeguarding human rights.
Organisations interested in becoming a Fairtrade workplace must satisfy minimum requirements for the certification, and continue to do so on an ongoing basis.
Fairtrade certified tea and coffee is served as the default option in kitchenette, canteens, at meetings, after services, and at other events where tea and coffee are used.
Promote fair trade to staff, clients, members or customers. For example, posters could be placed on noticeboards, stickers placed in windows, information sheets left in staff rooms etc, in order to publicise fair trade and inform staff and the wider community of the principles behind fair trade.
Hold or support an event during Fairtrade Fortnight (held in May each year), such as a morning tea.
The organisation endeavours to incorporate other Fairtrade products into the organisation such as Fairtrade Certified cotton, sports balls, chocolate, sugar, and WFTO gifts and crafts.
Where fundraising opportunities arise, a range of Fairtrade recognised products could be used.
Costs of participation
There is no cost to sign up to the scheme
In some cases, Fairtrade Certified products can be a little more expensive than their conventionally traded counterparts due to fairer prices being paid to developing country producers.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) has been accredited as the largest Fairtrade workplace in the world, after ensuring all supplies of tea and coffee across its 800 workplaces are Fairtrade certified. “Supporting Fairtrade tea and coffee will provide improved working conditions, stability and trading potential to disadvantaged communities and also give our people a reason to be proud,” Gavin Slater from NAB said. He added that the switch reflects the bank’s broader commitment to sustainability, and when the initiative was started in 2009, the employee intranet was inundated with messages of support.
The impact of Australian businesses switching to fairly traded products is acutely felt across the globe. “The impact of these procurement choices mean that not only can farmers grow and develop their business but they can send their kids to school, build roads and ensure access to better health care in their communities,” Carley Swan, from Fairtrade Australia said.