This news was too exciting not to post on the blog!
For immediate release:
EQUAL EXCHANGE WINS THREE AWARDS FOR ITS SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES
WEST BRIDGEWATER, Massachusetts – March 26, 2009 – In the span of less than four weeks, Equal Exchange, the worker co-operative best known for introducing Fair Trade coffee to U.S. grocery stores, has been honored with three awards for its category-leading, socially and environmentally responsible practices, and unorthodox business model.
In early March, Equal Exchange won the Social Innovation Award (small-to-medium size enterprise category, annual revenue $5 – $500 million) that is given out jointly by the Financial Times newspaper and JustMeans.com. The Social Innovation Awards showcase companies that are balancing the needs of shareholder and society-employees, customers and activists. In the words of the Financial Times and JustMeans, “these are the companies and individuals that are taking action and are having an impact on shaping the new world of sustainable and socially responsible enterprise.”
The awards were given out at the Financial Times’ “Responsible Business, Responsible Investing” conference in New York City on March 2. The conference was a rare opportunity for leaders from both the enterprise side of the corporate social responsibility community to meet and share ideas with leaders from the socially responsible investment community. Equal Exchange was pleased to share the podium with another co-operative, REI, the outdoor equipment retailer and consumer co-op, who was a winner in the Large Enterprise category.
In mid-March Equal Exchange was excited to learn that its new eco-café, the co-operative’s first-ever full-size coffee shop, was named as a winner of the Green Business Award by the City of Boston. The café is located downtown, next to Boston’s North Station and TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In keeping with Equal Exchange’s role as a leading importer and roaster of certified organic coffee, and purveyor of certified organic tea and chocolate, the café incorporates a number of environmentally responsible practices, ranging from the use of reclaimed wood in the café’s furniture to a comprehensive recycling and composting program for both staff and patrons. Besides a heavy emphasis on organic, Fair Trade, and locally sourced products, the café also took the unusual step of refusing to sell bottled water, out of recognition of its unnecessary contribution to global warming, litter, and land-fill waste.
Boston’s Green Business Awards will be given out April 16, at an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Children’s Museum in the Fort Point neighborhood.
And this week it was announced that Equal Exchange will receive the annual Aaron Feuerstein Spirituality and Business Award that is bestowed by the Symposium on Spirituality, Values, and Business. For the first time, the award is being given to an entire organization, instead of to an individual entrepreneur.
The award is granted to a business leader who embodies the values modeled by the life of Aaron Feuerstein. Mr. Feuerstein is a third generation leader of his family business, Malden Mills. When his mill burned down in a tragic fire in 1995, he not only continued to pay his employees, he also renewed his commitment to his community and his employees by rebuilding the mill at a time when most textile manufacturers were moving to other countries. Mr. Feuerstein is appropriately held up as a model for how modern entrepreneurs should lead. (more…)