Last month we talked about Environmental Justice. This is an important conversation but it can’t be reserved for board rooms or government contracts. When moving towards greener more sustainable practices it is vital that we include all who are involved. Two more pillars of Fair Trade respecting cultural identity and create transparent & accountable relationships. Anything done to a community from the top down is in violation of these values. Any new initiatives must include the community.
If a company or organization chooses to change the way it operates there are numerous factors to consider. Who does this impact? How much should be invested in education and training? Will this create jobs or eliminate them?
These decisions can not be made on the word of the board members alone. We must include the organization as a whole. There is no one better qualified to provide insight to matters than those who are directly impacted by them. Artisans, logistic operators, managers, interns all have valuable knowledge and experience that can contribute to an equitable evolution of an organization. Consider the example below.
Over 20 years ago, scientist Esteban González Burchard discovered that a mutation of small protein that is key in cell signaling was linked to asthma severity. He also found that this mutation was common in African-Americas. From his previous work, he knew that Puerto Ricans had deeper African ancestry than most people realized. Thus he was able to make the connection between the gene mutation and the asthma risk in Puerto Rican communities. Before González, this was a problem that was being explored, and had he, a Mexican American, not had personal experience to draw from, the research wouldn’t have moved in the right direction. This is the value of diversity.
Bringing diversity is so much more than scratching off an item on a to-do list. In order to ensure that true advancement occurs, we must diversify the decision making panels. Our workers and customers contribute directly to our success. It’s not the numbers on a graph or projections in a report. It’s about making connections and doing the right thing. We don’t spend money on PR ads telling you how good we are. Instead we invite you to see for yourself. When you visit either facility, you’re encouraged to talk with employees and get a better understanding of how we support the people who make your clothes. Transparency is only one of the ways we seek to do better in everything we do.
As one of the elite few who have passed the Fair Trade Federation’s (FTF) rigorous screening, GOEX is dedicated to following the nine FTF principles established to maintain integrity: create opportunities, develop transparent & accountable relationships, build capacity, promote fair trade, pay promptly and fairly, support safe & empowering working conditions, ensure the rights of children, cultivate environmental stewardship, and respect cultural identity. These principles hold us accountable to serve for all hands that touch our garments. Honestly, it goes beyond accountability. It’s our dogma. We don’t do what we do so you’ll like us and buy shirts from us. We exist to make an impact - to create jobs, to heal the planet, and to do good.
Environmental justice is the right of the entire population to be protected against environmental pollution and to live in a clean and healthful environment. This is a basic human right whose necessity arose from our destructive impact on the planet. We are all created equal and we have the undeniable right to a clean, healthy living environment yet many are completely omitted from these ideals. As ethical and sustainable producers, movers, and shakers we need to have an open conversation about disproportionality in green spaces. For too long there has been disparity between what could be and what needs to be.
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