Here’s the thing about some of our less conscious Corporations. They love Corporate Social Responsibility. It doesn’t work without Personal Social Responsibility though.
What I mean is this: It isn’t about the charters and sustainability agreements the palm oil suppliers sign up to. It’s about the personal responsibility they take as individual employees / managers / execs to ensure that their plantation managers and workers are adhering to the agreement. This begins by recruiting only those who share this value base, and where the charter checklist is being brought to life in spirit as well as letter.
In this Ruler / process driven culture it is very easy to tick the box, sign up to the charter, and display the logo proudly as the official truth of the standards they adopt.
But it needs somebody who cares on the ground and at all levels of the organisation making sure official truth matches real truth.
The other side to this coin of course is that ‘plausible deniability’ isn’t just a corporate thing. I know I have been guilty of assuming labelling etc means what it says. Doesn’t it make things so much easier to shift the burden? I think from a consumer point of view, taking personal responsibility probably equates to taking one extra step, one product per week in our usual shopping list, to find out independently whether it means what we think it means, and making a more informed choice on that basis.
I can’t make individuals in a palm oil supplier plantation, or the companies they deliver oil to, take personal responsibility to ensure their good intentions match reality. But I can take my OWN personal responsibility to look a little more closely at my purchases, get my own information one product at a time, and start moving my purchases in the right direction.