Fairtrade and B Lab combine with human rights and due diligence guide for small businesses

Fairtrade has joined with nonprofit organisation, B Lab, to create a guide enabling small companies to enhance their human rights and environmental due diligence strategies and policies within their value chains, reports Neill Barston.

The move comes amid a wider global push to deliver on major sustainability goals within industry, including the cocoa sector, as the EU seeks to deliver landmark legislation aimed at supply chain transparency and enabling legal protection for agricultural communities.

The publication, entitled ‘People and planet in business – A simple guide to support small companies in their human rights and environmental due diligence,’ offers support to smaller businesses – on how small and micro companies in all sectors can identify, prevent, mitigate and account for the negative impact of their business on human rights and the environment.

As Fairtrade, which is due to be among keynote speakers at our World Confectionery Conference on 5 October, noted, as a result of increased social and environmental awareness by consumers, it is critical that companies reduce human rights and environmental risks linked to their operations and value chains. This is a factor that it believed a growing number of micro companies are becoming increasingly mindful of.

However, almost all due diligence guidance is technical or aimed at large companies. Consequently, the expanding due diligence standards and regulations can appear complex and intimidating, particularly for smaller businesses with limited resources. Recognising this gap, Fairtrade and B Lab have developed a new guide to support small companies in implementing socially and environmentally responsible business practices.

Maija Lumme, Business Development Manager at Fairtrade’s Centre of Excellence for HREDD, said: ‘We hope that due diligence will soon be regarded as an essential aspect of business operations, much like food safety standards are today. Just as people expect companies to take responsibility for the safety of their food products, regardless of where the company sources its ingredients, we believe that respect for human rights and the environment, throughout value chains, should become the norm for all companies.’

‘As small companies and self-employed individuals constitute the primary job providers globally, they play a pivotal role in driving meaningful change. With this guide we wish to encourage small businesses to spearhead the movement towards responsible business conduct,’ Lumme continues.

The guide, which can be downloaded from the following link,  offers accessible and practical answers and step-by-step insights on how to navigate the realm of due diligence, even with limited resources.

‘Fairtrade and B Lab hope to demystify the landscape of due diligence and inspire small companies to leverage their potential in contributing to positive change. With the collective effort of small and large companies alike, the aspiration for all businesses to respect human rights and the planet can become a reality,’ says Bernard Gouw B Lab’s Senior Manager of Social Standards.

Fairtrade’s Business and Human Rights Director, Tytti Nahi concluded: “The responsibility to address harms is shared between all parties in a value chain. Our series of guides highlight that the costs of due diligence must be shared too, not cascaded on farmers at the beginning of global supply chains. This means that all companies, even the small ones, can play an important part in reducing adverse impacts on people, climate, and the environment across.”


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