Press Release: Global Fair Trade Enterprises & Cooperatives Including Worker Cooperatives Joining Forces
The global COVID-19 pandemic is proving three compelling truths. First, that there can be no healthy economies without healthy peoples. Second, that flattening contagion curves compels we flatten inequality pandemic curves concurrently and decisively. Third, that everything is downstream from competent, compassionate, and collective culture.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and global cooperative networks convened by 1worker1vote and allies will collaborate on multiple fronts in 2020 and beyond so that more Fair Trade Enterprises (i.e. verified WFTO members) become increasingly connected with the global cooperative movement while more cooperatives become verified as Fair Trade Enterprises. Together we will “build back fairer” transparent markets and democratic workplace culture.
Our goal in working together starts by joining forces at the grassroots enterprise level to grow and connect all interested global Fair Trade and cooperative (especially hybrid model shared ownership cooperatives) communities on an individual, regional and global outreach basis to explore, encourage and enable commercial B2B and policy opportunities by:
- Flattening inequality curves through virtuous cycle Fair Trade and Cooperative principles & practices
- Supporting Fair Trade Enterprises and cooperatives throughout the Covid-19 process
- Building stakeholder capitalism foundations across borders, markets, and silos
- Expanding and converging our communities and strengthening our movements
- Creating high-road, transformation-impacting change through shared structures, values & purpose
The current “world on pandemic, inequality and extractive capitalism fire” is poised to transition either to better than before out of necessity or much worse due to exploitation. With global Coronavirus changing everything, a moral construct for reinvention and renewal will determine the difference for communities and nations between dying, surviving and thriving.
Oxfam International reports the world’s billionaires grow $2.5 billion richer daily, while the poorest half of the global population sees its marginal net worth disappear. Globally, social mobility remains handicapped and 800 million people remain trapped in hunger and poverty.
While the planet is stretched beyond its boundaries by unsustainable economic growth, those who labor to generate the products and services driving our economy are left behind. A deepening systemic betrayal and a sense of being left behind transcends boundaries, destabilizing societies, and democracies.
Many of world’s most economically marginalized communities exist side-by-side with the richest regions. Shareholder primacy economy insists on short-term profit at-all-cost which perpetuates endless common denominator performance do-loops repeating their way to the bottom of grossly unfair and extractive trade practices.
In too many societies, exploited and commoditized human labor remains trapped in no-way-out, poverty-bred social alienation, cultural polarization, civic society decay including all racisms (gender, origin, age, sexual orientation, geographic origin, justice, environment) and rising violence. Without better structures and values, the global Coronavirus pandemic magnifies these downward spirals into sustaining socioeconomic and sociopolitical eruptions.
The WFTO - 1worker1vote collaboration intends to help tip the balance towards mutual thriving within a global “New Mutualism” construct. Fair Trade, Workplace Democracy, and Worker Equity are the driving linchpins to launch local and global, foundational virtuous cycles defined by shared purpose and value driven missions that when acted upon produce desired outcomes. Starting with intentional shared ownership and democratic governance, these virtuous cycles include aspirational work, fair and transparent markets, empowered workers and inclusive stakeholder equity practicing planetary and basic humanity stewardship.
Markets already show this approach to be more resilient and therefore more productive and profitable in mid and long terms for “value-through-values” impact investors. This is especially true when local stakeholders become shareholders who then can self-value, self-determine and self-empower to thwart a pandemic, heal and reinvent their own lives, families, enterprises and communities.
Such “good trouble capitalism” is profitable on multiple levels. In a Stakeholder Economy, doing well by doing good makes sure the common good is upfront, inclusive, ubiquitous, intergenerational and place based. Speaking truth to power is de rigueur healthy, uplifting those whose voices are finally heard, respected, re-enfranchised and reincorporated center stage and center ring. Worker and employee owners tend to be more knowledgeable and financially literate than their counterparts in vertically structured enterprises.
Accepted market and academic metrics show that broad-based, worker ownership social enterprises and ecosystems through shared high road principles and practices are more stable, inclusive, equitable, democratic, resilient, and competitive with fewer job losses, especially during downturns. Research proves that combining an equity stake with participatory ownership culture (essentially the definition of a worker cooperative) creates better and more resilient businesses.
Fair Trade inspires millions and proves a better world is possible through a global community of businesses such as farming, weaving, teaching and trading that march and lobby to put people and planet first. New ESG-driven impact investors construct financial algorithms creating their own virtuous cycles by building mission-primacy businesses putting people and planet before profit and reinvesting their profits to pursue transformative social outcomes.
A stakeholder economy is based on the idea that power cannot be concentrated in the hands of a few. The democratic principle of one-person/one-vote is pivotal, where an individual equity share provides the right to vote with agency as basis for “free-market” power and economic-paradigm-changing culture seeding inter-generational community wealth, civic well-being and self-reliance. Many cooperative and cooperative-like models (such as Fair Trade Enterprises) embody this principle in a variety of governance models.
Fair Trade Enterprises (verified by WFTO) demonstrate in their ownership, governance, and trading practices that they are mission-primacy businesses reinvesting the majority of their profits to pursue their social mission. They practice Fair Trade principles across their entire business cycle and with all their suppliers.
Fair Trade Enterprises, like social and triple bottom-line (people, planet, profit) enterprises, represent a welcomed hybrid variety of legal and business structures, but ensure they prioritize the interests of economically marginalized workers, farmers, artisans, and communities in everything they do. As such, Fair Trade Enterprises (verified by WFTO) and the cooperative movement are mission kindred spirits, demonstrating that an alternative to shareholder primacy is not only desirable, but is already viable and uplifting its practitioners to flatten contagion and inequality curves through virtuous cycles and building a Stakeholder Economy that works for all.
About the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), www.wfto.com: WFTO is the global community and verifier of social enterprises that fully practice Fair Trade. (Address: World Fair Trade Organization, Global Office, Godfried Bomansstraat 8 – 3, 4103 WR Culemborg, NL). We are the global community of social enterprises that practice Fair Trade. Our Guarantee System verifies that our members are truly Fair Trade Enterprises. This means they pioneer models of business that put people and planet first.
About 1worker1vote (www.1worker1vote.org): Inspired by the 2009 Mondragon International and United Steelworkers collaboration its principals helped to create, 1worker1vote, incorporated as an economic development catalyst non-profit in the State of New York (mid-spring 2015), is building a national network of hybrid, shared ownership, regional and municipal social enterprise ecosystems. Starting with unionized worker-owned cooperative businesses to overcome structural inequalities of opportunity, mobility, and income, 1worker1vote is showing that broadening and deepening societal inclusion through individual worker equity directly produces high road, solidarity-infused and more resilient businesses and hosting communities.
Media inquiries directed to:
WFTO – Erinch Sahan
1worker1vote – Michael A. Peck
Photo credits: Creaciones Miquelina and Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance