Williams-Sonoma recently announced its intention to up its sustainability commitment through two new initiatives. The company plans to double investments in Fair Trade U.S.A. programs by 2025, as well as increase purchasing of product from Nest Ethical Handicraft, which supports the wellbeing of artisans globally.
These partnerships will help the company facilitate its pledge of having 75 percent of all products meet one or more of Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s social and environmental initiatives by 2030—a commitment that represents $1 billion in product purchases annually.
“We invest in programs that positively impact the people that make our products and the communities where we source our products from,” said Laura Alber, president and CEO, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “Our work with partners like Nest and Fair Trade help support a resilient, sustainable supply chain that delivers concrete business value.”
Since 2014, Williams-Sonoma has partnered with Fair Trade U.S.A. and Nest to increase sustainability and fair trade practices in the company’s supply chain, ensuring the highest degree of ethical production both inside and outside of WSI factories. Williams-Sonoma became the first home retailer to offer fair trade-certified products with the launch of one rug factory in India and today, the company works with 17 Fair Trade Certified factories in five countries, impacting nearly 16,000 workers.
The focus on sustainable and fair trade goods in the home sector has grown considerably over the past few years, particularly as direct-to-consumer brands like Boll & Branch, Coyuchi, and Saatva—all of which offer fair trade-certified products—increase in popularity.
With the addition of a new commitment to double fair trade premiums by 2025, Williams-Sonoma will have paid nearly $20 million in fair trade premiums since the partnership began in 2014. For every fair trade-certified product sold, Williams-Sonoma pays a premium that goes directly back to workers who collectively decide how to spend the funds to improve the lives of themselves and their communities. Workers have invested premium funds in solar panels in homes to create light for their children to study by, provided bulk purchase food staples and PPE to support workers during Covid-19, built a clinic to provide health services to the broader community, and more.
“This type of commitment at scale is exactly the kind of leadership we need right now—for workers, for the environment, and for conscious consumers who demand responsibility from brands today,” said Paul Rice, founder & CEO of Fair Trade U.S.A. “We are pleased to see Williams-Sonoma, Inc., take its commitment to responsible sourcing to the next level and excited at the added impact it will create for producers.”
Williams-Sonoma’s partnership with Nest also began in 2014, with the development of the Seal of Ethical Handcraft to ensure ethical production in handcraft supply chains. Four years later, WSI became the first ever retailer to offer product with the Nest Seal, and today the company offers more than 400 ethically handcrafted products across their family of brands.
“Since we began our partnership in 2014, WSI has demonstrated a deep commitment to protecting workers throughout their supply chains – including the homeworkers and handworkers who create handcrafted product at scale,” said Rebecca van Bergen, founder and executive director, Nest. “By playing a pivotal role in the launch of the Ethical Handcraft program, WSI has both impacted the lives of thousands of hand workers in their own supply chains, as well as over 45,000 hand workers that we’ve reached through the program to date.”