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A way to tell your labor story

Many produce and retail companies have ethical and sustainable labor practices, but the challenge has been how to communicate that to partners and consumers.

One way is to endorse the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, and then follow its framework.

On the Produce Marketing Association’s BB #:153708 September 2 town hall webinar, three companies who have endorsed the charter told what it means to their businesses.

“The charter allows produce companies to articulate our labor practices,” said Brian Kocher, president and CEO of The Castellini Companies LLC, BB #:102397 Wilder, KY.

But more important than signing on to the charter, he says, is making changes and efforts that workers can see every day.

“The charter itself didn’t mean as much as its principles, such as better communication and mutual respect,” Kocher said. “If we don’t treat our employees with dignity and respect, some other employer will.”

Doug Grant, COO for Oppy, BB #:116424 Vancouver, British Columbia, said the decision to endorse the charter was an easy one.

“For us, it was easy because it already aligned with our company standards,” he said, and requiring its suppliers to follow them as well gives Oppy a better understanding of its supply chain.

Annabella Freeman, senior manager, sustainability and strategic initiatives for Walmart Inc., BB #:143789 Bentonville, AK, said an important aspect of the charter is giving participants a common language and code of conduct.

She said Walmart allows suppliers to choose from several different audit programs to verify they’re following the guidelines that the retailer requires.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services