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I only ever wanted to work for an ethical business

When I say Fairtrade has been a lifelong passion, I really mean it. When I was at school, I started a Fairtrade group. I took a gap year before university, volunteering in Tanzania, and also working at Traidcraft, the UK’s first Fair Trade pioneers. I only ever wanted to work for an ethical business, and that brought me to Co-op eight years ago and my dream job in the Policy team.  

My job is about making a difference. The Policy team leads on setting the ethics and sustainability strategy for the Co-op, as well as keeping our products safe and legal – this means we have to have a great external network and our fingers on the pulse of the big issues. We then translate this into something meaningful for the Co-op to take action on, and of course, work with colleagues who will help it become a reality. 

Supporting communities with Fairtrade

One of the highlights of my role was visiting the Ivory Coast to see how we support workers by committing to buy products at a fair price. Here in the UK, you see the Fairtrade logo on food and drink, but in the Ivory Coast, I saw it on everything from water pumps to school signs. What’s just a logo on a packet to us, is a way of life to other people. We choose to pay more because we’re about more than just money. Trade is about people as well as products; it means more than just numbers on a screen. Most businesses measure success by finances alone; I’m proud to be part of something different: an organisation that remembers the value of every single person.

A week for me might involve briefing colleagues on ethics and sustainability challenges, talking to Fairtrade about a campaign plan or dialing into an industry webinar on a big issue such as deforestation. There is never a dull day! It is a real honour to look after some of the areas which our members have high expectations of, and which help us make a positive impact around the world.

Sarah Wakefield

Sustainable Sourcing & Fairtrade Manager 

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