Fairtrade - Making a Difference

Last week I spoke to you all about the European Business Awards - an independent awards programme that celebrates the successes of businesses and leaders throughout Europe. During the awards ceremony held in Paris, I was particularly moved by the story of the company who won The Award for Corporate Sustainability, The Fairtrade Foundation. Interested in learning more about their history and vision, I met yesterday with Frances Robathan, Fairtrade’s Head of Fundraising, and was inspired by her enthusiasm and the Fairtrade story.

Established in 1992, The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards. Their vision is of a world in which justice and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures and practices so that everyone, through their work, can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and develop their full potential. This vision certainly resonates with me.   

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “He who moves not forward, goes backward.” The environment and the world are changing and it is up to business leaders to look inward at their policies and practices and begin implementing environmentally sustainable business models. How do we do this?  It is about asking the right questions, being aware of what is available on the market and associating ourselves with the right products and companies. It is about, where possible, getting employees and clients involved and committed to doing business in a more socially responsible way.   

Whether it's printing double-sided to conserve paper, setting up recycling bins or making a commitment, as the RSM Executive Office has done, to purchasing Fairtrade products whenever possible, what is important is that we start taking steps – no matter how small - towards improvement and changing not only our practices, but also our mindset.


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer