The Onion, Fair Wages, and Sustainability

You may or may not be a fan of The Onion — an online and now onscreen satire of the news.  Sometimes they are irreverent, sometimes they are wry or ironic … but they are always thought-provoking.

Recently the site ran an article on the way large organizations have gotten into the habit of ignoring their customers.  Most of us have noticed that poor customer service seems to be an epidemic, especially at “soulless multinational corporations” where employees have little buy-in to the mission of the organization.  In many of these places, companies are only interested in the return to shareholders and employees are only interested in the paycheck and benefits (when those exist).

It’s been amusing over the past decade to watch some of the worst offenders in this category try to redeem their image. The oil companies now advertise that they are investing in non-oil energy sources.  Walmart has spent billions on contracting with local organic farmers and on increasing pay and benefits for some of their employees.  The largest supermarket chains now trumpet their organic and Fair Trade sections.

SEED Livelihood Network, of course, operates different from the beginning.  We only work directly with livelihood groups, and we work hard to make sure that as much of your purchase price (and all of your donation amounts) go to the livelihood group for whom they are intended.  Making this our standard practice ensures that livelihood group members will receive a fair wage for their work, as we all desire.

This also means that the groups will be sustainable.  Of course the wage helps the individuals with their own livelihood, but even more, the groups are able to build a realistic business model that will empower them to be independently sustainable.  It is still our dream and plan that our web site will contain a list of groups with which we used to work.  Former partners would be great, because it would mean that those groups don’t need us any more.

How many soulless multinational corporations can say that?

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