Dean's Beans Fair Trade Audit
We are proud to be the first coffee company in the USA to have our Fair Trade practices independently audited. In August, after six months of designing the audit program, we were visited by an Inspector from Quality Assurance International, an respected international organic and business practices certification organization. The Inspector, Bob Howe, went through all of our contracts, bills of lading and other documentation to examine our claims to be 100% Fair Trade. He also examined all wire transfer and email correspondence regarding our Social Equity Premiums (profit sharing with farmers), People-Centered Development projects and community activism to investigate whether our practices were real and our claims accurate. It was a long and involved examination, and we passed with flying colors!
We wanted an independent outside audit to model the same level of transparency and financial accountability that we in the Fair Trade movement demand from our farm partners. I've always been bothered by the demands some organizations make on third world peoples that they would not demand of themselves.
Also, we wanted an outside set of eyes looking at our claims and helping us to see where we may have made any unclear or confusing statements about our relationships to the farmers and their communities. It makes me crazy how many times I see advertisements from "socially responsible" coffee companies that have blatantly (and I think knowingly) misleading statements around their pricing, the extent of their fair trade practices and their overall behavior in the coffee world.
So here goes. The Fair Trade Audit consists of three parts: