New York, NY, September 30, 2015 – Fair Trade USA announced this week at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting its commitment to improve working conditions and enable sustainable livelihoods for factory workers, “Fair Trade Farm To Factory: An Ethical Sourcing Model.” Over the next two years, Fair Trade USA will certify 35 new factories, working with 30 new brand partners to improve the lives of 40,000 factory workers, globally. As the first home retailer to offer Fair Trade Certified™ products, West Elm is a lead partner in Fair Trade USA’s commitment, pledging the certification of more than 20 percent of its product assortment by 2017 and 40 percent by 2019. The pledge represents more than $1 million in additional Fair Trade Premiums that will go back into the hands of workers in the next 4 years alone.
Through the Fair Trade Factory program, Fair Trade USA provides independent, third-party certification for manufacturing facilities to ensure safe, healthy working conditions for workers and artisans. The rigorous Fair Trade USA standards cover areas such as: monitored hours, equal rights for men and women, overtime, grievance policies, and paid leave. Fair Trade is also about worker empowerment, democratic participation, and financial benefit for workers through the Fair Trade Premium—an additional amount of money earned by workers for every Fair Trade product sold. Premiums can be spent on social and community-focused initiatives of the workers’ choice, such as health care or financial education.
“Fair Trade USA is committed to applying our proven agricultural model to the manufacturing industry, extending the progress and best practices we have achieved with farmers to factory workers, who make up 14 percent of the global workforce,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “West Elm and Patagonia were among the first brands to respond to our call to the industry to demand new standards and prevent incidents like the Bangladeshi fires and Pakistani building collapse from ever happening again.”
West Elm is an early adopter of the Fair Trade USA Factory program, and has already made significant investments in company infrastructure to scale its Fair Trade offerings. The brand will feature over 400 Fair Trade Certified products this holiday season, an approximately 180 percent increase over the holiday 2014 collection.
“West Elm and Fair Trade USA share a market-based approach to social and environmental change,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm. “At West Elm, everything we do is designed to make an impact. As a company we have a responsibility to provide ethical, transparent and sustainable sourcing and have great hope that our fellow retailers will be inspired to join us. Together, our industry can positively impact millions of workers and communities.”
With the 2015 CGI commitment, Fair Trade USA and its partners will also invest in systems to measure the impact of certification on workers’ lives. Impact indicators are verified on an annual basis through the certification process and additional impact assessments are conducted using real-time mobile technology to communicate directly with workers, along with in-depth community-based studies five to 10 times per year. This focus on measurement is a key part of the commitment and will help validate the success of Fair Trade certification at the individual worker and community level, informing future goals and supplemental programing like financial services for workers receiving premiums.
About Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Its award-winning, rigorous, and globally recognized sustainable sourcing certification programs improve livelihoods, protect the environment, and build resilient, transparent supply chains. The trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label on a product signifies that it was made according to stringent Fair Trade standards. Fair Trade USA is building an innovative model of responsible business, conscious consumerism, and shared value to eliminate poverty and enable sustainable development for farmers, workers, their families, and communities around the world.
About West Elm
West Elm helps customers express their personal style at home. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, the brand introduced its first catalog in 2002, and opened its first store in 2003 in DUMBO, the Brooklyn neighborhood it still proudly calls home. Everything West Elm does is designed to make an impact, from its commitment to Fair Trade Certified, local and handcrafted products to its community-driven in-store events and collaborations. Mixing clean lines, natural materials and handcrafted collections from the US and around the world, West Elm creates unique, affordable designs for modern living. The brand operates 79 retail stores in the United States, Australia, Canada and the UK, ships internationally to customers around the world and operates stores in the Middle East and the Philippines through unaffiliated franchisees. West Elm is part of an active community on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and You Tube, and is a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,400 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries. In addition to the Annual Meeting, CGI convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States; and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. This year, CGI also convened CGI Middle East & Africa, which brought together leaders across sectors to take action on pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.
Fair Trade Public Relations