Continuing our series exploring Bio regional’s ten principles of One Planet Living, the spotlight this month is on equity and local economy. This principle is based on creating “safe, equitable places to live and work which support local prosperity and international fair trade”.
The One Planet goals for equity and local economy include:
- To ensure diversity and equality of opportunity across gender, race, age, sexual orientation and disability.
- To create a vibrant and resilient economy where a significant proportion of money is spent locally.
- To pay all employees a living wage and avoid large income gaps.
- To ensure pensions and investments are managed responsibly.
- To conduct international trade fairly and without exploitation.
Why is equity and local economy important? Equity is the practice of fairness in business and is about being impartial, while local economy is the distribution of goods and services at a domestic and local level, rather than international trade. Local businesses are the foundation of our economy, so when we support local businesses, we help boost the local economy by circulating more money closer to home. In fact, many countries survived the 2008/2009 economic crisis due to strong industries within their borders.
In South Africa, one of our major challenges is unemployment - if we buy local products and services, job creation is the result. One of the biggest threats to South Africa’s local economy is the barrage of cheaper products supplied by countries like China, with companies willing to compromise on quality to save a buck, with the excuse that local consumption is too expensive. However, this objection is trumped by the money that is returned through increased employment, and the local circulation of money.
For companies that trade internationally, One Planet Living promotes fair and non-exploitative trade. Engagement with international suppliers is key in ensuring that they do not exploit their workers or the environment, for example by not participating in child labour. Regular audits should be undertaken with your international suppliers to ensure that they are ethical and compliant with relevant environmental legislation. In short, know who you are buying from.
Internally, a One Planet company understands that treating its employees fairly and with respect can only benefit their business. In South Africa, equity is governed by the Employment Equity Act, which aims to regulate how employees within an organization are managed in terms of their skills, roles and remuneration in a fair and non-discriminatory way. The selection of an employment equity committee is particularly helpful in ensuring that a business is complying with the Act and meeting its employment equity requirements.
Treat your employees right and support local businesses, and your company will be on track to contributing to a more sustainable tomorrow.
Are you interested in One Planet Living? Why not give our Sustainability Officer a call to find out more!