Is your workplace Fairtrade certified?

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HR plays a crucial role in demonstrating an organisation’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.

Whilst each year many organisations endeavour to take part in at least one major CSR initiative, demonstrating a daily commitment to recognising a company’s impact on society is pretty much unheard of – or is it? How about if every time an employee brews a cup of tea or coffee, they could rest assured the organisation is going the extra mile in considering their impact?

Becoming a Fairtrade workplace is a way to support and promote fair trade and be recognised for the commitment. Fairtrade ensures equitable trading partnerships, and this is achieved by providing better trading conditions through stable, minimum prices for products and resources which could otherwise have been produced under exploitative circumstances. As the vast majority of tea and coffee is sourced from developing economies, ensuring that a fair price is paid to the producers is paramount to safeguarding human rights.

Organisations interested in becoming a Fairtrade workplace must satisfy minimum requirements for the certification, and continue to do so on an ongoing basis.

Minimum requirements:

  • Fairtrade certified tea and coffee is served as the default option in kitchenette, canteens, at meetings, after services, and at other events where tea and coffee are used.

  • Promote fair trade to staff, clients, members or customers. For example, posters could be placed on noticeboards, stickers placed in windows, and information sheets left in staff rooms to publicise fair trade and inform staff and the wider community of the principles behind fair trade.

Suggested goals:

  • Hold or support an event during Fairtrade Fortnight (held in May each year), such as a morning tea.
  • The organisation endeavours to incorporate other Fairtrade products into the organisation such as Fairtrade Certified cotton, sports balls, chocolate, sugar, and WFTO gifts and crafts.

  • Where fundraising opportunities arise, a range of Fairtrade recognised products could be used.

Costs of participation:

  • There is no cost to sign up to the scheme.
  • In some cases, Fairtrade Certified products can be a little more expensive than their conventionally traded counterparts due to fairer prices being paid to developing country producers.

The impact of New Zealand businesses switching to fairly traded products has an impact across the globe. Consumers worldwide spent almost $8.8 billion on Fairtrade certified products last year, which was a 12% increase on 2010, according to Fairtrade International. However, growth over the same period in New Zealand was double that amount at 24%.

“Choosing Fairtrade is the norm for millions of people around the world. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger part of our regular weekly shopping and Kiwi consumers are continuing to increase their spend on the likes of Fairtrade coffee, chocolate, bananas and tea substantially. The total estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in New Zealand reached $45.4 million last year,” Stephen Knapp from Fairtrade ANZ said.

Strong Fairtrade sales were great news for more than 1.2 million farmers and workers at 991 Fairtrade certified producer organisations in 66 countries, Knapp added. “In addition to the income earned from Fairtrade product sales, farmers and workers also earn extra money through Fairtrade Premium. This money is then spent on democratically-decided projects - including farm improvements and processing equipment, education and career training, community projects and healthcare.”


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