I get the feeling there’s more than just stolen wages involved in 7-Eleven’s systematic underpaying of it’s workers. Same with Coles’ and Woolworths’ “Mind the gap” programs demanding suppliers cover their losses.  When our leading companies demonstrate that bullying and meanness are more important in a “successful” business than kindness and respect it filters down setting a tone for how we treat other.  Because meanness like all those disposable baby wipes blocking our sewers accumulates in our systems.  And the thing about bullies is that there’s always a bigger, meaner one more than happy to take over the playground.

There are an estimated 20,000 social enterprises operating in Australia but there’s a perception in social enterprise that the “social” part is a disadvantage, the non-business sharing/caring thing is a drag on an enterprise like a sort of financial sea anchor.  But flip over meanness and bullying and treat and pay people fairly and see what happens. Fair Food has a 92% staff retention rate and a customer order accuracy of over 99%. Low staff turnover has created a packing line that works quickly and efficiently like a sports team who have played together for many seasons.

But this goes much farther than a smooth functioning warehouse; the refugees and asylum seekers who come to work at Fair Food, who experience a culture of respect and kindness pay that on to the workers who come after them, to their children at home, their neighbours and the people they’ll employ in the businesses they start in the future.  Profits are very important but success is in business so much more than crushing another quarterly result.

CERES Fair Food are finalists in this year’s Australian Social Enterprise Awards
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