Is your workplace fairtrade certified?

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HR plays a crucial role in demonstrating an organization’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.

Every year most organizations endeavour to take part in at least one major CSR initiative, but demonstrating a daily commitment to recognizing a company’s impact on society is pretty much unheard of – or is it? What if every time an employee brews a cup of tea or coffee, they could rest assured the organization is going the extra mile in considering their impact? Enter fairtrade for workplaces.

Even the small adjustment in coffee, tea and sugar can make a big difference to growers overseas, says Fairtrade Canada director of communications Michael Zelmer.

“As awareness of fairtrade increases we’re seeing demand grow. The idea that people get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work resonates with people,” says Zelmer. “The range is good so you can get a fairtrade equivalent for pretty much any quality or price point. There are even organic options.”

Those same consumers who now demand grocery stores, coffee shops and gift stores carry fairtrade goods are your workers. And if you wonder what difference you can make with a small change, remember that workplaces embracing fairtrade can make a much bigger difference than the individual. Even a small company’s change will help farmers at the other end, and for companies with hundreds or even thousands of staff members, the impact is significant.

So where do you start? It could be as easy as asking your current provider, says Canadian Fairtrade Network director Sean McHugh, who has run workplace engagement programs with universities and private companies.

“The first thing would be to find out what you’re already consuming and what’s available,” McHugh says. “Most service providers around the country have fairtrade options available.”

For smaller companies picking up supplies at the supermarket the change is simple, McHugh says, and the feedback from workers where companies have made the change is always positive. After all – an exploitation free cup of joe has to taste better.

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