Expanding Our Understanding of Sustainability: What We Can Learn from the Retail Food Industry about Employee Wellness

By Samantha Veide

As members of the coffee industry we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to consider our impact on local communities and workplaces, as well as the communities from which we source coffee. Tracy Ging, deputy executive director of the SCAA, asks a key question, “We’ve spent a lot of valuable time talking about how we are doing in relation to the farmer, but how are we doing in our own backyards?”

Indeed, we cannot forget our efforts at origin, but are we looking enough at the environments in our own cafes? “As an industry, much of our initial effort towards being more responsible businesses focused on social justice and environmental issues,” Ging adds. “But as we’ve matured along with the field of sustainable development, there are flusher expectations for business. Business responsibility includes how it conducts itself in the marketplace, how its practices affect the environment and how aware and responsive the business is to the communities in which they work. However, another core area of impact for any business is its own workplace. Work conditions, equal opportunity, employee benefits, and training opportunities need to be part of the equation.”

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