Exporting for good – are you a good exporter?

Are the days of just flogging your wares over?

Remember those days when ‘all’ a successful exporter had to do was to find the best agents/distributors, do a bit of multilanguage packaging, pay the listing fee to the local supermarket chain and get your containers shipped and everything was wonderful.

There were no worries about campaign groups trawling through your supply chain ensuring that all your suppliers were treating and paying their staff fairly and whether your supply chain was causing all sorts of damage to the environment. Just flog some products and life was wonderful.

Yes, life, business, and export have changed, keeps changing and you and your export must change with it.

UK fashion brand, Boohoo, suffered considerable reputational damage as controversy erupted over working conditions in Leicester’s clothing factories

UK fashion brand Boohoo

You simply have to listen to people and their lives

Businesses are increasingly responding to rising political awareness. Younger generations are committed to integrity – over price and convenience – so there is a growing demand for transparency which has the potential to shape the world.

A 2018 Deloitte Millenial survey showed that 80% of millennials believe that business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance, and should make a positive impact on society and the environment. This is causing a worldwide ripple effect across industries such as food and fashion. As consumers become increasingly environmentally and socially conscious, they are more likely to support companies that demonstrate similar values.

So, while some traditional exporters may see all this as a threat and a disruption to their well-established practices and relationships. Others, you may call them ‘disruptors’ see these developments as opportunities to develop strategic competitive, advantages. But you can’t just put on a sticker saying ‘we are good guys’ and then carry on with your existing practices – you will be found out and social media will make sure everybody knows about it

- Where are you on the Export for Good axis 1

Export For Profit

has probably been the starting point for many traditional exporters and, obviously, making a profit is a key reason we all export but in the ‘new normal’ world I would suggest that this is no longer enough.

Corporate Social Export 

encourages companies to be socially accountable, operating in ways that enhance or positively contribute to society and the environment, demonstrating community engagement. This adds good work to a standard business approach and is more than name-checking a charity or hosting annual fundraisers.

Conscious Export

happens when your busi ness has a higher purpose which is reflected throughout the whole organisation and in all your business dealings. This is a holistic approach to business and export, a key part of the business’s DNA.

So, on the above scale where does your export sit and where would you like it to be and how do you get there?
Cocoa farmers in Ghana


Cocoa farmers in Ghana, Africa are benefiting from ownership of a Fairtrade company thanks to a partnership with Divine Chocolate, a social enterprise that makes Fairtrade chocolate products.

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behaviour. The companies, cooperatives, and landowners who participate in their programs meet rigorous standards of behaviour that help to conserve biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods.

Australian-American coffee-house chain Gloria Jean’s now imports Rainforest Alliance Certified Single Origin Nicaraguan whole bean coffee sourced from the mountainous Jinotega region of far north Nicaragua. The company had now roasts some 2,340 bags, which is equivalent to 183 tonnes of coffee, and this is available from all 400-plus coffee houses around Australia.
All of Gloria Jean’s flavoured coffees have also received Rainforest Alliance certification.

“The partnership allows our coffee house guests to continue to purchase high-quality coffee while now also demonstrating their support for a product that has been grown according to meticulous environmental and social standards,” says executive chairman, Nabi Saleh.
“We’ve chosen to partner with the Rainforest Alliance because we believe it serves the greatest good for the most people, both on an individual and community-wide level.”

Gloria Jean’s are committed to ensuring that franchise partners around the world are aligned with their vision. “We currently have coffee houses in 23 countries,” says Ian Martin, group chief executive.

“For every country we enter, our potential franchise partners must first come to Australia for a six-week induction program. This program spends considerable time focused on our vision, values and culture. If they’re not comfortable with those, we can tell very quickly that they’re not right for our company and we don’t proceed with them.”

Dr Simon Longstaff, executive director of St James Ethics Centre, says that supply chain integrity is the best way to guarantee the reliability of the goods and services we outsource.

“We place a certain amount of trust in an organisation we are purchasing from and we want to know who we are dealing with,” he says. “It would be intolerable if we were dealing with a company that didn’t care about the source or quality of the inputs. The advancement in communications technology means, however remote you happen to be from those who supply to you, there is nowhere to hide if the company you source from has issues that are not in line with your own core values.”

While businesses tend to see ethics as a sacrifice, studies in the US, Europe and Australia show companies that cultivate an ethical culture can benefit financially.

They are more likely to have strong customer relationships and lower staff turnover and are also less likely to engage in risky behaviour.

All of these can impact favourably on the bottom line. Nevertheless, when a business is smaller or starting out, the owner may find there’s a powerful temptation to compromise.

Good luck with your Exporting for Good initiatives