A word on transparency

One of the stops on my path to working at Dean’s Beans was a job at a coffee farmer’s cooperative in Northern Peru.

I got the job because Dean had made the connection for me. He called up the co-op manager, a long-time friend, and asked if I could come and stay for a few weeks and film. I bopped down, visited and filmed many farmers and documented the various development projects that Dean had initiated with them.

On my last day in Peru, as I was packing up my bags to come home, the General Manager came into my room and asked if I would like to stay on as a full-time employee. As a recent college grad with a spirit for adventure and no other job ideas, I deliberated long and hard (about 15 seconds), and said okay.

The fact that Dean would send me to Peru in the first place is important. He sent a young idealistic guy with a video camera to the place where he sources his main product. Would most other companies be willing to do that? Or would they be worried that documenting the working and environmental conditions wouldn’t be good for their PR? Many, if not most companies probably don’t even know where their products come from, let alone the conditions under which they were produced.

Transparency is the key here. For us, as individuals who want to do good when we make purchases, it is really important to know where our products come from. If we know, then we can make good decisions. So how can we find out? My advice: look for transparency. If a company says their products are ‘sustainably sourced’ but then wont tell you how, it’s probably because they either don’t know or don’t want you to know. And that’s a bad sign.

With just a simple phone call, Dean was able to send me to Peru to the very source of his main product. He wasn’t afraid that I would find something that would go viral on You Tube and destroy his business. In fact, the videos make the business look better! Give them a look, and see for yourself – that’s transparency in action!

-Michael

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