All berries are hand-harvested. Most likely before you pick up your clamshell at the supermarket, the only other person that has touched those berries is a harvester. They play a vital role in delivering fresh, quality, and delicious berries to you and your family. That’s why treating the workforce with dignity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s crucial to the future of our business. To continue delivering on our mission of providing the finest berries, we must create jobs people want and treat them with respect to attract and retain a thriving workforce.
Although a majority of the workforce is employed by independent growers, we have a responsibility as a trusted brand to ensure harvesters are treated with respect and working within the enterprise is a source of pride. Collaboration with growers is key to maintaining our standards and striving for continuous improvement. Given that approximately 75% of produce is hand-harvested, we also strive to raise the standards across the industry to address systemic agricultural issues around the world.
Our independent growers were always expected to comply with all laws and regulations. However, we realized there was a need for additional standards where laws do not exist, are not consistently enforced, or provide lower protection to workers. Our first step was to review existing standards from governmental and non-governmental organizations like the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions, Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) Standards,Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) Standards. After applying these existing frameworks to the realities unique to our crops and growing regions, we developed a set of standards that ensure farm workers are treated with respect, their workplaces are clean and healthy, and employment within the Driscoll’s system provides a sufficient income to live with dignity.
- Child labor
- Forced labor
- Human trafficking
- Coercion abuse and harassment
- Health and safety conditions posing immediate risk to life and limb
All identified issues in conflict with the above standards are unacceptable and must be corrected immediately or will result in termination of the relationship with Driscoll’s.
Independent Grower Audits and Improvement Plans
Driscoll’s promises and expects an environment of transparency and information exchange between us and our growers with regards to labor policies, practices and conditions. To ensure the standards are being adhered to, growers are equipped with trainings and best practices, are subject to 3rd party audits through Elevate Global Limited, a renowned 3rd party auditing firm, and are supported to continuously improve the workplace environment.
Capacity Building and Training
Key elements of our labor program include designing processes and educating growers on how to implement them. Once these processes are complete and handed over to growers and district managers, they are completely embedded within normal business activities to ensure lasting and sustainable change within our enterprise.
- 100% of our growers in Mexico have received in-depth in-person training, on average over the course of 3 years, on our labor standards which is key to ensuring acceptance and adoption.
- Developed responsible recruiting plans for high risk regions and trained workers to understand their rights and benefits.
- Expanding US growers’ access to a trained and vetted pool of workers and lengthened employment opportunities for farmworkers in Mexico and the USA.
- Were involved with the creation of Ahifores, an International Fruit and Vegetable Alliance to promote social responsibility, to raise industry standards in Mexico through the establishment of DEAR, a local industry-owned certification system that ensures growers are compliant with Mexico laws and prevailing labor standards.
- Partnered with the Mexican government and growers to increase healthcare access for workers by organizing and sponsoring mobile field and community medical clinics with PrevenIMSS.
- Led engagement in the ethical trading forum in Spain and the Strawberry Working Group in Morocco to raise standards across the industry and address systemic issues such as transport safety.
- Engage globally with customer and supplier groups like the Consumer Goods Forum and Food Network for Ethical Trade to provide input on grower-friendly solutions .
- Created a multi-stakeholder responsible recruitment working group in Portugal dedicated to improving recruitment pathways.
- Working with nonprofits and community stakeholders to fundraise, construct and manage low income housing to increase housing supply for farmworkers.
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