How Fair Is Your Trade?

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process”- Benjamin Harrison

The Startup Business Ross McKenzie Strategy People FairtradestoreIn business we are typically focused on achieving customer satisfaction and we often link customer satisfaction to overall success. However, is this where the focus should be?

In fact, if you Google the key words Customer Satisfaction today, you will get about 95.4 million results. Employee Satisfaction on the other hand, gets you just 10% of that, at 9.6 million results or references.

What about Shareholder Satisfaction? Surprisingly this comes ahead of employees at 20.4 million references, yet Supplier Satisfaction gives you 52.2 million.

Now of course you can extrapolate what you want from that data. It is not real research with any particular hypothesis in mind. However, I wanted to use it to bring up a point that perhaps in business we should continually be looking more broadly across the ecosystem that we are part of and understand how we can have an impact both positively and negatively. With this in mind, we do not have to go too much further from our supply chains and where we source our goods and services.

For me, this is about two important concepts – Fair Trade and Impact Sourcing.

I do not know about you, but I am very uncomfortable to know that modern day slavery is prominent around the world. In addition, there are far too many work places of which may not be classed as modern day slavery, yet clearly provide working conditions for their employees or contractors in which most business owners and managers would find appalling.

Fortunately, though, things are changing and more transparency of the working conditions is being achieved as companies implement social responsibility policies and ethical sourcing practices and even having independent parties audit supply chains. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” just does not cut it these days for most of us. However, it is a very difficult area to continually to monitor.

That said, it is my view that as customers or clients, we have an obligation to ensure we are sourcing from reputable businesses where the rights of individuals and communities are being respected to the same level that the International Labour Organisation would come to expect.

So what can you do?

Well Education Is The First Step

You need to become aware as to what are indeed some extremely poor and cruel practices are out there, maybe by the businesses that you are currently sourcing your goods and services from, but you are just unaware of.

Next Is To Take Action

Develop you own ethical sourcing policies and work with your suppliers to improve theirs as well. If they are not prepared to change, well you can change them and if you need to, report them to the appropriate authorities.

Third, Become An Advocate Or Champion For Fair Trade And Impact Sourcing

Embrace it within your own business. Assist your employees own awareness. Invite representatives in from other organisations to share their stories as well.

Lastly, if you are like me and have become very passionate about the subject of Fair Trade and Impact Sourcing then start you own business supporting it directly! You see, I cannot over emphasise the amount of pride I have today in launching the Fair Trade Store, an ecommerce store supporting micro business startups around the globe.

Would the World miss it, if I had not launched the Fair Trade Store today? Probably not.

However, is it possible that the Fair Trade Store will make the World a little better for some in it? Most definitely!