Their Behind the Brands campaign asks us as consumers to take some simple steps to make sure that our purchases are aligned with our principles: Look. Listen. Act. We need companies to look at how they are treating the people (who are often overwhelmingly women) responsible for the supply chain. We need them to listen to the experiences of those people. Finally, we need them to act by creating policy changes to address these inequities.
You can use this fantastic interactive guide to see how your favorite brands score in a number of measures. If they're not living up to your standards, then the site makes it easy to let them know.
For instance, I'm a huge fan of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (especially Phish Food. Mmm.) Ben and Jerry's has done a lot of work to make sure that their products are ethical, but they are owned by Unilever, and their policies to ensure that the women in their supply chain are treated fairly through equal pay and rights are not where they need to be.
Unilever is among the highest ranked brands in Oxfam's database (and they've even partnered with Oxfam in the past to address the treatment of farmers). Still, Oxfam's recent research into their supply chain business practices have revealed subpar wages and unfair hours in places like Vietnam.
These huge, over-arching companies have a tremendous impact on the global economy. They employ millions of people across the world, and their policies and practices can set standards that will be followed all around the globe. As consumers of these products, we are part of this chain, and it is our responsibility to make sure that our links are as strong as they can be.
See where your favorite brands rank and make sure that you let those companies know when they're enacting policies you approve of and where they need to make changes. The bottom line is their bottom line, and when enough people speak out, these companies will change.