Special Report

Ethical Business: Women’s rights on cocoa farms

- Last updated on GMT

Ethical Business: Women’s rights on cocoa farms

Related tags: Chocolate, Social responsibility

This is the story of how an initiative from Oxfam prompted assurances from leading chocolate companies to improve the lives of women cocoa farmers. How did each firm react? Were they quick and effective enough?

Oxfam spent two years compiling its Behind the Brands Scorecard​, a report rating the corporate social responsibility record of the top ten food and drink firms, which was published in February.

The charity unearthed widespread gender inequality on cocoa farms in developing countries and questioned whether the top three chocolate firms - Mondelez International, Mars and Nestlé - were doing enough. See HERE.

Oxfam found women working on cocoa farms, mainly in West Africa, were paid lower than men, struggled to gain access to tools and training and were in some cases subjected to abuse and hunger.

The chocolate makers were all quick to respond, but Oxfam labelled their replies “bland and complacent.”

The charity then stepped-up its lobbying and encouraged consumers to sign a petition directed at one of the firms. All companies have now pledged to do more.

How events played out reveals a great deal about how big companies respond to criticism from charities and consumers.

 We present a timeline package on it all unfolded.

  1. Oxfam findings and initial response​ (01/03/13)
  2. Chocolate companies respond to our questions​ (07/03/13)
  3. Nestlé first to promise action​ (08/03/13)
  4. Mars pledges to do more​ (25/03/13)
  5. Mondelez makes its commitment​ (23/04/13)

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