Yesterday, I presented a special lecture with Prairie College Business Management students on Fair Trade. As I have been updating myself about this topic, a few headlines grab my attention:
Kitkat withdrawing from Fair Trade
Fairtrade : Is it really fair?
Shocked but not surprised: Fairtrade responds to report of widespread child labor in West African cocoa industry
The system is not perfect but it is working for a lot of farmers, artisans, and producers in the South. The current labelling and certification process for fairtrade has become a million dollar industry. Ethical consumers are beginning to vote with their purchases and this trend will be going to continue in the next 10 years. The question for the actors is that how can we prevent consumer confusion with all these competing claims in the marketplace?
The fairtrade sector is growing at an accelerated rate from $ 1.5M in 2005 to $9.8B in 2018. Yet, fragmenting in many ways due to the crowding of claims within and outside of the ethical/fair markets.
There has been tremendous harmonization of fairtrade. All actors understand, agree, and commit to its principles and standards. In the future, actors must as well agree and commit to growing and evolving fairtrade without compromising its foundational principles but at the same time, honoring its commitments to the broader marketplace.
The heart of true fairtrade lies in the producers and farmers. If they're not benefitted from these initiatives, why would fairtrade exists?
Tired of wearing mask? I hear you.
I was talking to a colleague from Australia last week.
She said that in her country, they are required to wear mask everywhere at a 250+ rate of new infections a day. While I said, I was driving by a lake last week for a presentation, people are enjoying every inch of the beach space. No mask at all.
There is a dissonance between what the public health authorities are asking everyone to do and what people are doing otherwise. People go to the beaches, enjoy public events and restaurants, avail of health services, and outdoor sports and recreations, like they used to.
The fatigue in keeping the rules of social distancing and wearing masks is a social phenomenon. There is a certain limit to how far the public can keep up with restrictions in the name of collective public safety, health, and well-being. The social deviance is a response to this but there are deeper factors at play.
It is beginning to show that individual registers to risks and rewards are very different and sometimes, antithetical to the establishment. In fact, I would surmise that instead of being able to curb out deviant behaviors through fines and penalties, it will rise up as force to reckon with.
How much of what is perceived are purveyors of real risks? How much is pure fluff and can be dismissed as overreaction?
Perception is reality. Perception is the only real thing.
There are two kinds of risks: risks you can take and risks that you can't and shouldn't.
We are prone to face risks everyday.
When we drive to work everyday, we face risks because bad drivers are out in the road too.
When we go to the dentist or massage therapists, we take the necessary risks of getting a bad fill or getting an achy spot.
In any decision, it has its own attendant risks. Risks can be mitigated, can be reduced to mere nuisance or annoyance, and can be completely subverted, that there is no way that it becomes an obstacle or a hindrance to an action.
We take daily precautions in our COVID-19 life nowadays, actually over-precaution-bordering on paranoia and panic.
Organizations must be clear about what risks they can take, risks they can't and shouldn't and risks that are not actually risks-just part of doing business in this new climate. Anything that is described as risks these days are not really risks at all.
It is likely fear.
The sad fact is that many have been prone to close their doors and windows, turn off their lights and cover themselves with blankets. They treat experts as outsiders that can be carriers. I understand that we live in a litigious society and in this pandemic, everyone is a suspect. But the world continues to move forward. If you don't want to do business, just close the shop instead of making double messages.
Where exactly is the danger in remote activities?
As you might have received in your inboxes, restaurants, businesses, organizations, government agencies have sent their own crisis mitigation policy statements on COVID-19.
In those statements, they have succumbed into the overabundance of caution, to suspend their events or ask their staff to work from home.
While these measures are meant to "flatten the curve" of the virus spread, we are also bombarded by all sorts of misinformation from social media and even our well-meaning friends and relatives who resort to more panic-driven actions than anything of rational mindset and objectivity.
Caution based out of solid evidence is a good parameter but once it borders on panic, fear-mongering, and delusional thinking of doomsday scenarios, it becomes a vehicle for more social unrest and collective fright.
Let us be mindful that we need to be calm, level-headed, and objective about the virus as much as we can so we don't spread more fear and heighten the level of insecurity that people feel while they are self-isolating and social distancing from other people.
For those of us who are healthy and able to navigate the closing spaces in our community due to the pandemic, we need to show compassion, understanding, and care for those that are actually sick or feeling symptomatic. We do this not by buying more supplies that we can need for 14-days self-isolation or by refusing to let fear control our lives.
There is not a single hand sanitizer in the stores.
Believe it or not, people have been panic buying more than they should.
We can stop the fear mongering right now by using logic to dispel the most insidious rumors and fears spreading.
It starts with understanding that people will survive and have been surviving from COVID-19.
Taking the necessary precautions for an ordinary flu is fine but beyond the stock piling of food, panic buying on sanitizers and alcohol, and tissue papers, and hoarding several medicines are totally useless.
The 14-day quarantine is good for those that have actually known that they can be infected seriously knowing that either, they had been on a cruise ship where an infected persons lived with them; second, they have been to flights where the destinations have been known to have the most infections, and third, community transmissions wherein in that case, staying at home when you feel like having a weak immune system is a must.
I flew today on a one-hour flight from Alberta to BC. People are living their lives mindful that the risks are not intense enough to stay at home, lock the doors, and don't go to work and school. The airport is quiet and the line-up to customs is almost nil.
For those that schools and workplaces were shut down, there is a big reason for that.
Aside from that, live your life with the same intentionality as you would in a normal flu season. We should monitor the risks around us but not get paralyzed by fear and fear-based myths surrounding COVID-19.
Not all opportunities are equal.
There are opportunities that are just right for your organization and opportunities that you should overlook because
1) it is not enough to be a sustainable venture;
2) it takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and monies to get it off on the ground and even maintain;
3) it doesn't represent your current wheelhouse and departing from what works could get you distracted and confused;
4) it is a fake opportunity, a carrot being dangled without the evidence of its real value and feasibility;
5) you are overreading into the situation.
Not all ideas are germane as business opportunities. Not all offers or interests should be taken seriously.
Test them diligently and be sure that they represent most viable vehicle towards your ultimate goals. Know the people that you are talking with or will work with and check their track record of success or achievement.
There are no shortcuts to careful thought and consideration of the issues that you weigh in. The real value versus the actual costs of making those investments including the time it will take to get it fully completed, should not be underestimated. Most of the time, new projects and initiatives collapse under their own weight putting too much at the beginning when it is important to be light on the foot and formless when things are in flux. If you are not the decision-maker, it is better to be flexible and adaptive, listening to counsel and opinions of those that can make it or break it.
Remember to be positively inactive when there is no need to take action, especially when the gains are far less than they tend to appear.