It’s only fair

Last week I attended Fair Future, a conference focussed on fair trade and particularly celebrating 20 years of the Fairtrade Mark.

It was a great day with high-profile participants from government, retail, food & drink brands, and the non-profit sector.  A few things stuck in my mind from the day.

The first came in the opening speech by Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, who talked about how businesses were now doing “fairer business as usual”. Certainly that’s something we try to do at know research, and I’ve seen some evidence of it in other businesses – but I’m not sure exactly how far this extends.

The next came from Rob Michalak of Ben & Jerry’s. He explained how their requirement for Fairtrade ingredients was having a knock-on effect through the supply chain and making Fairtrade more available to other manufacturers. This really rang true with me. We are a Fairtrade Workplace, meaning we always buy Fairtrade tea, coffee, sugar for the office. We also ask research venues to make sure that they provide Fairtrade refreshments when we are visiting – they are often surprised at the choice and quality available.

Ian Cranna of Starbuck’s talked about how consumers, and particularly young people, are wanting businesses to be more transparent. I think this also extends to businesses wanting their partners to be open and honest. This is very important to us and that’s one reason why we are working towards Fair Tax Mark accreditation, which will certify that we are transparent and fair on tax. This shouldn’t be surprising to you, but sadly we’ve all heard of businesses that dodge tax or use tax havens, so it’s good to be clear that we are fair on tax.

Finally, Nick Hewer of Apprentice and Countdown fame (though really a hard-nosed businessman!) talked about how retailers need to build up a “reservoir of goodwill” with their customers. It struck me that all businesses need to have a reservoir of goodwill among their customers – and that’s something we are always trying to achieve by working fairly, openly and honestly with our clients and our suppliers. We think it’s working as we continue to have great relationships which makes every day a great day at work.