The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) changed our lives practically overnight, redefining our way of life and how we do business. Travel restrictions, community guidelines, and curfew schedules keep on changing and the same thing goes for business success and effectiveness measures. While different organizations use various indicators to assess success and effectiveness, I believe the most common denominator is profit. High profitability is good but profit should not be the end goal. Instead, the organization must strive to achieve the triple bottom line: the 3Ps of sustainability known as profit, people, and the planet.
The Fair Trade (FT) program, in my opinion, is aligned with the triple bottom line since it addresses the three Ps. Let me explain.
Profit: The UK, US, and EU are all experiencing a rise in FT sales, which have benefitted primarily from the green movement's support and growing ethical consumerism. Since its inception, the Fair Trade following has gotten more significant, expanding from a niche EU market to mainstream status that, according to Enow-Ebot (2011), is the cornerstone of its success. FT began in mom-and-pop stores and eventually made its way to the shelves of the world's largest retailers and online stores. Organizations could take advantage of this trend and use FT to gain a competitive advantage that could lead to higher profitability.
People: FT prioritizes the well-being and long-term welfare of farmers and workers. Its primary goal is to improve farmers' lives by giving a premium for every FT purchase. This premium will be paid in addition to what the buyer would normally pay for their goods. Depending on their preferences, farmers can use the premium to fund projects such as feeding programs, scholarships, medical missions, or even upgrade farm machinery. Moreover, FT's strict standard protects farmers and workers from global supply chain issues such as forced labor, child labor, equality, unsafe working conditions, and many others (O'Connor et al., 2017).
Planet: The FT certification ensures that shoppers who buy Fair Trade-certified items are getting a product that meets economic, social, and environmental principles (Heredia et al., 2019). The FT program requires farmers and workers to achieve high social and environmental standards to promote sustainable lives through environmentally-friendly farming and production processes. In addition, some FT manufacturers operate with local communities to give them a better understanding of how their livelihoods are directly linked to the health of nature and the necessity to conserve these natural resources to promote ecological balance and enhance biological diversity.
In my opinion, profit alone will not suffice: a real successful and effective organization must aim to achieve the full package, balancing profitability and humanistic eff orts. If we're ready to go to the next level, consider Fair Trade an option to achieve the triple bottom line.
Rhoey Lee Dakis is a Doctor of Business Administration student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.