Fairtrade is an independent, third party certification organization, which works in partnership with more than 1.5 million producers in developing countries. Its mission is to secure decent working conditions, fair prices and better terms of trade. In this way, producers are empowered to improve their social, environmental and economic sustainability.
Fairtrade helps consumers know that farmers got a fair deal in growing their goods like coffee, sugar and fresh produce every day. All people participate in global supply chains that ultimately start with a farm.
Fairtrade requires that companies pay fair prices and works hard to level out the inequalities of global trade as we know it, which traditionally discriminates against the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Through Fairtrade, farmers and workers take control and build sustainable futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.
The difference between “Fairtrade” and “fair trade” is that “Fairtrade” refers only to Fairtrade organizations (such as Fairtrade America) or products certified through the Fairtrade International system. Conversely, “fair trade” can refer to many different things – the fair trade movement, fair trade products generally, products that claim to be fairly traded but do not carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.
The Fairtrade Mark, the most widely recognized and trusted ethical label globally, remains the most visible sign of the organization’s work. But Fairtrade has always meant much more than a label. Fairtrade organizations complement the mark with ways of working that range from product labelling to enabling business engagement in programs, always centered on the Fairtrade principles of empowerment, capacity, transparency and fair pricing that are the prerequisites of sustainable development. Producers co-own the Fairtrade system, shaping global strategy and running operations across the three regions they represent: South/Central Americas, Africa and Asia.
The benefits of Fairtrade go beyond just extra income for farmers – they also address issues like Gender Equality and Climate Change. The Fairtrade Standards ban Child Labor and protect Workers’ Rights.
There are currently 300+ kinds of products that are Fairtrade certifiable. Certifiable food products range from coffee and cocoa to herbs, spices, and even wine; non-food products include cotton, beauty products, and even precious metals like gold and platinum. Fairtrade was created to cover commodities, such as cocoa, coffee and cotton rather than handicrafts.
Fresh fruit & fresh vegetables like bananas and avocados, as well as dried fruits and juices
Sugar & sweeteners like honey and agave syrup
Beauty products and cosmetics
Flowers and ornamental plants
Precious metals (Silver, Platinum, and Gold)
Fairtrade America (FTA) is a US based, independent, third party certification organization, which works in partnership with more than 1.5 million producers in developing countries. Fairtrade America is affiliated with Fairtrade International and a member of the Fairtrade organization network that shares common standards. The dedicated team based in Washington, DC fights for change to better the lives of farmers and workers in developing countries.
Overall trust and recognition of the Fairtrade mark in the U.S. is on the rise. A recent Globescan study conducted by Fairtrade America to measure consumer awareness revealed that 76% of U.S. consumers would view a brand they already buy more favorably if it carried a fair trade label. In the U.S., FTA works with 60 brands, and the Fairtrade label appears on more than 5,000 products. The U.S. now ranks as the third largest market for Fairtrade goods behind the United Kingdom and Germany; and in 2017 Fairtrade retail sales in the U.S. topped $1 billion. Fairtrade sales in the U.S. grew by 33% over the last year, and the number of Fairtrade products available nearly doubled.
Fairtrade International is the oldest and globally best-known fair trade label. Fairtrade has been recognized as the gold standard for fair trade certification by a recent analysis of fair trade labels conducted by Fair World Project.
The challenges the world faces are intricately interconnected. We cannot address poverty until we address inequality; rampant development exacerbates climate change; any approach to eradicating child labor and forced labor must address sustainable livelihoods throughout value chains; and a lack of equal rights for women inhibits progress across the board. Fairtrade America is uniquely positioned to drive progress forward and shape public opinion to build a more equitable and sustainable future.
The FTI strategy is shaped by five goals designed to leverage strengths and enable change in trade and transform the lives of the people who engage in it:
Building benefits for smallholders and workers
Deepening impact through services and programs
Building Fairtrade markets
Influencing government policies
Building a strong global system
In accordance with Fairtrade America’s powerful mission, vision, and values, the Executive Director (ED) will work collaboratively with its Board of Directors and the Fairtrade organization network to preserve the rich legacy and ensure the continued growth and success of FTA.
The ED is responsible for the development and execution of an innovative, strategic vision and the effective administration and oversight of all operations, external affairs, corporate activities, and contract services to achieve the strategic goals set by the Board. The ED will build a dynamic workplace culture rooted in the values of FTA and generate significant increases in brand awareness and attractiveness for consumers and business clients while also increasing influence in policy circles and civil society.
Fairtrade America sits at a unique intersection of business and nonprofit, the Executive Director (ED) must lead with an inclusive and strategic approach to staff leadership, business development and relationship management. The ED brings a strong business acumen, a domestic and global awareness, and have a committed stake in social justice. The ideal leader is an industry thought-leader and serves as an authentic and compelling storyteller with an effusive passion for the fair-trade cause.
The ED is a listener first, who leads by example, embodies a transparent management style, and empowers others. The new leader should be equally adept in serving on the ground as a hands-on partner with staff and stakeholders as they are working with high level organizational strategies.
The ED is metrics-driven and able to both assess and address the current needs of FTA, including refinement of business development and sales strategies, building brand awareness, leveraging internal data platforms, and implementing forecasting frameworks. The ED is a leader who can optimize the significant potential of the Board of Directors. Other areas of focus include refining client retention strategies, driving action through consensus, and identifying new retail market partnership opportunities across the United States.
Fairtrade America seeks a passionate and committed leader who values and promotes the mission and can leverage their people management, relationship building, strategic execution skills and passion for the benefit of the organization.
Professional qualifications include the following:
Executive Leadership & Board Relations
Serve as a visionary to guide and oversee the organization’s mission and principles through partnership with the Board of Directors.
Establish and monitor adherence to organizational policies and procedures.
Maintain critical strategic partnerships, including those with Fairtrade International, FLOCert, the Fairtrade Producer Networks, global Fairtrade affiliate organizations, public sector partners and key clients.
Collaborate with the Board and staff to develop strategic and operating plans on an ongoing basis.
Identify and evaluate opportunities for improvement and implement plans accordingly.
Establish and communicate a clear vision that is compelling, widely supported, and effectively implemented.
Promote a culture of strong integrity, high performance, meaningful collaboration, and continuous improvement that values learning and commitment to quality.
Evaluate the current services, offerings, and operations to ensure a sustainable model for the future.
Maintain a productive relationship with the Board and work with Board members to set the enterprise’s strategic direction and policies, enabling the enterprise to adapt to a constantly changing external environment.
Work collaboratively with the Board Chair to set and implement the Board of Directors’ governance, policies, and bylaws.
Ensure transparency and communicate regularly with the Board around all key governance issues, including financial oversight and board recruitment and development.
Keep the Board informed of the organization’s progress, activities, and challenges; providing accurate monthly reports and annual budget to the Board.
Operations and Financial Management
Maintain a well-functioning, efficient organization through effective communications and teambuilding; develop measurable goals and objectives to enable FTA’s commitment to provide the highest quality of services.
Ensure productive and effective staff performance, providing guidance, feedback and opportunities for professional development.
Establish a performance-oriented, accountable culture with appropriate performance management systems. Work with senior leaders and the management team to establish and monitor performance and development goals, assign accountabilities, set objectives, and establish priorities.
Develop and support the executive leadership team, while also cultivating young talent for future leadership opportunities.
Identify and evaluate Best Practices from other members of the Fairtrade network for recommendations and possible implementation to enhance FTA’s operations
Review competitors' operations, marketing and branding practices; research and recommend actions and responses to industry and market changes.
Develop and contribute to sales tactics for Client/Vendor acquisition; forecasting and establishing a matrix of performance goals and objectives.
Develop and maintain appropriate levels of internal controls and communicate the designated processes and procedures to the Board.
Provide executive leadership to all marketing, communications, and branding initiatives for FTA to ensure the organization is best positioned among key constituents at the national level and within the Fairtrade organization network.
Serve as the public face and official spokesperson of FTA; promote FTA’s mission and services to all constituencies, the general public, and the media.
Enhance existing and develop new partnerships with other relevant fair trade organizations and stakeholders aligned to the Fairtrade movement.
Serve as the organization’s chief fundraiser; engage potential donors in the organization’s strategic vision and direction; expand partnerships with corporate philanthropy; develop unique revenue generating opportunities to grow and diversify FTA’s funding sources.
Ensure visibility of the organization’s programs, services, and activities and maintain good public relations.
The search committee is seeking a dynamic and visionary leader with experience leading an organization with exemplary communication skills and a record of building and leading an innovative and successful institution.
Other desired qualifications and leadership characteristics include:
Minimum of five (5) years of experience in management positions with progressively increasing responsibility.
A firm commitment to the goals and objectives of FTA, and to the belief that Fairtrade principles and standards can make a powerful and positive impact on the world.
Seasoned executive with a high-level of maturity, sound business acumen, proven leadership skills, and demonstrated success in leading an organization with measurable results.
A consensus-driven leader with a demonstrated ability to lead through organizational core values and mission
Applicable commodities industry / commercial food leadership experience
Strong leadership abilities and strategic thinking to create, plan, share, and implement the organization’s vision.
Ability to serve as the chief brand ambassador and strategic visionary
An ability to influence and motivate others toward reaching organizational goals.
Collaborative leader who fosters teamwork and who attracts and develops top talent.
Charismatic; a commanding and credible public presence coupled with an unflappable demeanor under pressure.
Clear ability to differentiate and delineate the FTA value proposition from a sales and marketing perspective with new and existing customers and partners
Experience in many, if not all, the chief executive officer functions, including interfacing with a board of directors, managing a major budgetary function, contract management, program delivery and participating in advocacy, revenue generation/resource development, and public relations.
A thorough understanding of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, leadership technique, production methods, human behavior and performance, and coordination/collaboration of people and resources.
Results driven; demonstrated record of maturity, sound judgment, integrity, and ethical standards.
Politically savvy; experience building and sustaining relationships with many constituencies, both internal and external, including government agencies and funding sources, and the media.
Ability to professionalize the work culture, instill respect for internal processes and to identify and build out institutional Key Performance Indicators
Decisiveness with keen analytic, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities that support and enable sound decision-making.
Knowledge of fair trade practices and familiarity with international supply chain management.
Strong communication skills, both oral and written, with the ability to tell the story of Fairtrade America in a compelling and memorable manner.
Fluency in a second language, preferably Spanish, is strongly desired.
Passion and enthusiasm for the mission and the ability to engage and inspire others.
Reports to: Board of Directors
Direct reports/Leadership: Chief Operating Officer