From My Office to Yours: Give a Gift that Speaks Your Values

Tina Huesing CSR, Sustainability, Values

Christmas packageThe holiday season is upon us, and in the office we are thinking of our employees and valued customers. Remember the debates about the right greeting? Should it be Merry Christmas or Happy holidays or Hanukkah or Ramadan, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or something else altogether?

This year I am less concerned about the right greeting, and more concerned with where my holiday cards and gifts are coming from.I ordered my cards from UNICEF and from my local LIONS club. With both purchases I am supporting organizations that I believe in and am helping them achieve their goals.

Giving cards and gifts is not only a nice way to say thank you for doing business with us, but the gift we give is also a reflection of our values.

In our company we care about environmental sustainability.We follow the standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative when we report on our progress. So the cards we send to our customers need to be in line with these efforts. I’m glad to know that the paper comes from responsible sources and is FSC certified.

We also care about our people and everyone in our supply chain. So we source with these criteria in mind, too. The holiday cards were produced in socially audited companies.That means I can be reasonably sure that the people working there are paid a living wage.

We have the cards; we are now shopping for gifts that will express the values we hold. So as we source, we ask a few simple questions:

  1. Who? – Who made this, grew this, transported this, and was everyone involved fairly compensated?
  2. What? – What is this made of?  How harmful was its creation to the environment?  Is it made from non-renewable or sustainable resources?
  3. How? – How does this item get from where it was grown, produced, woven, printed to our offices? Can we keep carbon emissions low by sourcing locally?

The Fair Trade symbol helps me choose with my values in mind. This organization ensures that relevant social and environmental standards are met and that producers receive a fair price.

Though many of us are looking for a bargain this holiday season, products that are made without these ideals in mind can be costly to the environment and to the people and communities that helped make them. Aligning your workplace cards and gifts with your values is a statement that stands out. Happy shopping!


Tina Huesing is a Chief Consultant with Wyrmwood Consulting in Munich, Germany, and a student on the Ph.D./D.B.A. program at Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership.

Photo credit: Lynn Friedman via Compfight cc

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