However, it pays to recognise even small behavioural changes, especially when those small changes have big impacts. Spiralgirl mentions that Starbucks introduced a fair trade variety of coffee through their stores. I’ve already had my say about this. However, when Starbucks introduced fair trade coffee in this limited way, they became North America’s largest customer for fair trade coffee.
When you factor in continuity issues (that is the ability for small suppliers to provide a consistent supply of product) this is an important step, and should be recognised as such, with the appropriate sense of caution. Sure, 5% is only a small step, but it’s bigger than most companies Starbuck’s size are willing to take.
When Oxfam et. al recently released it’s Play Fair at the Olympics they steered away from making a fuss against Nike, because Nike, in fairness, have done more than most sportswear manufacturers to clean up their act. Nike, understandably, cried foul of campaigners who consistently single out Nike while a) ignoring the progress and steps that have been made and b) refuse to point the finger at the other, worse, manufacturers.
The sweatshop-free supply chain issue is far more complex than most campaigners realise – Nike opening up their supply chain to outside scrutiny is a huge step forward, as well as opening Nike up to significant competitive risk and should, IMO, be applauded.
I suppose what I’m getting at is that most corporations are shite, but, if a corporation takes steps in the right direction two things should happen – a) they should be recognised for the good work they are doing, and b) pressure should be continued to keep the changes coming and to ensure that they live up to their promises.