Perfect partners - Fair trade and CSR
by Tessa Bees, Traidcraft’s Fair Trader Recuitment and Development Co-ordinator.
A few years ago the terms ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) and ‘sustainability’ were business buzz words. Nowadays social impact is serious business with organisations paying huge sums of money to consultants to help them embed CSR into their companies. The Companies Act 2006, along with pressure from shareholders, investors, pressure groups, employees and customers, has resulted in 70% of FTSE100 companies producing a sustainability or CSR report in addition to Annual Accounts.
Social accounting was pioneered by Traidcraft in 1993. Traidcraft seeks to assist workplaces in making genuine changes that demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental impact. One of the best ways to do this is to switch to fair trade. Our hope is that one day it will be unthinkable for an organisation to not use and serve fair trade supplies.
In a world where three billion people still live on less that $2 a day, Traidcraft’s vision is a world freed from the scandal of poverty, where trade is just, and people and communities can flourish. Traidcraft challenges unjust trading structures and practices that can lead to the exploitation and marginalisation of poor people. International trade is carried out within a system of rules and agreements but the rules are stacked in favour of the rich. Traidcraft is campaigning to change those rules so that poor people can feel the benefits of trade. We also trade with poor producer groups and supports development projects in poor countries. Thanks to our pioneering work, we are the UK’s leading fair trade organisation.
By caring about poor overseas producers an organisation reinforces the message that it cares about its customers and staff. This can help in winning business and raising morale, especially in a difficult economic climate. By switching the workplace to fair trade, everyone benefits, from management, workers and the poor in developing countries. Traidcraft’s range includes tea, coffee, snacks, even rubber gloves and tissue products. Prices are sensible, invoice arrangements are easy, delivery is quick and to the door.
David Bowman is one of Traidcraft’s non-executive directors, and is also a freelance accountant. In February 2009 he started leaving a basket of fair trade goodies in all the offices he visits. Demand has been so high that three years later is he buying thousands of pounds worth of goods from us to supply his customers. Having a tuckshop is an absolute winner – it makes everything effortless for the organisation and sends out all the right messages.