Submitted by: Equal Exchange
Posted: Mar 24, 2009 – 11:59 PM EST
WEST BRIDGEWATER, MA. - March 25, 2009 - In less than the span of 4 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 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 2nd. The conference was a rare opportunity for leaders from both the enterprise side of the CSR 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-cafe, 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 cafe 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 cafe'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 16th, at an 11 AM ceremony at the Children's Museum in the Fort Point neighborhood.
And, just yesterday, Equal Exchange was honored with the annual Aaron Feuerstein Spirituality and Business Award that is bestowed by the Symposium on Spirituality, Values, and Business.
The award is granted to a business leader, or organization, 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 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.
The criteria for winning this award are: