As reports continue to come out that the ‘glass ceiling’ inhibiting women in the work force remains as impassable as ever, Worldette looks to Harriet Lamb, Fairtrade International’s new CEO, and a woman who has bucked the trend and worked her way to the top of the world of international trade.
Harriet Lamb has recently been welcomed as the head of Fairtrade International, the body responsible for granting permission to don the ‘most widely recognized social and development label in the world’.
Not only has Harriet scaled the corporate ladder, but she has done it gracefully and for a company that also defies corporate norms, working for positive change in international trade.
Why We Love Harriet Lamb
Harriet grew up in India and knows first-hand what small-scale farming looks like. Often it is entire families doing back-breaking work from dawn to dusk, spraying harmful chemicals for greater yield, and taking extremely low prices for their crops, because it’s all they can get.
Harriet has dedicated a large part of her career to representing these farming families around the globe, both at the Fairtrade Foundation of the UK, where she worked for ten years, and now as she continues as the vanguard of the entire fair trade movement.
Also on her record at Fairtrade Foundation is an incredible increase in global sales of Fairtrade products – from 37 million euros in 2001 to 1.5 billion euros in 2011.
Clearly, she hasn’t taken the time to be troubled by any glass ceiling.
She has even tackled big name companies, like Kraft foods, pushing them to collaborate.
By scaling up and challenging those big-name food companies, Fairtrade International will extend its reach to an even larger swathe of global small farmers, giving the rest of us an even better selection of high quality Fairtrade products.
What is Fairtrade International?
Fairtrade International is the global body responsible for setting standards of fair practices in global farming and trade (see their standards here).
Counter to many development organizations today, they believe that poverty can be reduced through international trade rather than by giving aid.
The goal of Fairtrade International is to ensure that everyone who has a hand in getting you the products you love – from your favorite coffee to that new wool skirt you just bought – has a decent work environment and livable wages for their honest work.
Fairtrade not only benefits the producers with whom it works, but also the environment.
Farmers are rewarded for using environmentally sound practices, and are encouraged to seek organic certification – meaning even better products for you, without the harmful effects on the environment.
For all this and more, we are excited to see Harriet – an impassioned woman, with drive and intellect – leading the globe into a more equitable and beneficial food culture in the 21st century.
Check out Ms. Lamb’s book, Fighting the Banana Wars and Other Fairtrade Battles, or offer your support to Fairtrade International by buying products that carry the official label.
What Fairtrade products do you love? Have you been inspired by a woman in Fairtrade or other ethical business? Tell us about her in the comments below!