Spier receives global recognition for its ethical practices

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Frans Smit, managing director of Spier, collects the Ethical Award at the international Drinks Business Green Awards 2022 in London late last month.
Frans Smit, managing director of Spier, collects the Ethical Award at the international Drinks Business Green Awards 2022 in London late last month.

A Stellenbosch wine farm has received global recognition for its ethical practices, proudly flying the flag for South Africa internationally and setting a benchmark on our own shores.

Spier Wine Farm won the Ethical Award at the international Drinks Business Green Awards 2022 at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 29 November. The award is given to a business that is committed to improving and benefiting surrounding communities and carrying out best ethical practices in its day-to-day operations.

After taking its place as a top-five finalist among drinks businesses globally, Spier was named the best in the world. “We are delighted that our efforts to ensure fair and ethical treatment for all the employees in our supply chain have been recognised with this international award,” said Frans Smit, Spier’s managing director.

This is the second time Spier has been recognised by the Drinks Business Green Awards, after winning the Amorim Biodiversity Award for its ambitious indigenous replanting programme in 2019.

Now in its 12th year, the awards are the only initiative to reward those operators in the drinks sector taking an eco-minded and sustainable approach to their business. “Our 2022 winners have shown extraordinary commitment and creativity this year in putting the green agenda at the heart of their businesses, extending it to every possible corner and crevice,” a spokesperson for the awards pointed out.

The full shortlist for the Ethical Award included Champagne Telmont in Damery, France; Kendall-Jackson Winery in Sonoma County, USA; Journey’s End Vineyards in Sir Lowry’s Pass; and Terrazas de los Andes in Mendoza, Argentina. Spier was singled out for its comprehensive efforts to ensure the fair and responsible treatment of workers throughout its supply chain.

These efforts – as well as compliance with leading local and international ethical certifications – form part of Spier Growing for Good, a range of initiatives empowering communities to create positive social and environmental change.

Spier’s commitment and pioneering efforts can be attributed to the Enthoven family stewardship since 1993. In 2004, the wine farm became one of the first in SA to be certified by the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trading Association (WIETA). It was assigned the most favourable risk rating based on employees’ working conditions, housing and tenure, and health and safety, among other things.

In 2017, the farm introduced a system to ensure suppliers provide access to their WIETA audit reports, sign Spier’s supplier code of conduct and commit to continuous improvement. On-site supplier audits and interviews conducted by Spier’s dedicated social compliance and training specialist provide a meaningful, accurate and nuanced picture of a supplier’s ethical status and the working conditions experienced by employees.

And if they don’t come up to scratch, Spier is there to help. Smit explained: “Having mutually identified areas where suppliers require support, our compliance team has given training and other forms of tailor made assistance on an ongoing basis to ensure there is continuous improvement of their ethical status.”

As gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the biggest issues facing workers in Spier’s supply chain, the winery also initiated a drive to educate and empower staff – both its own and that of its 14 suppliers, totalling more than 400 workers. Trained social workers conducted in-person multilingual sessions, provided after-training referrals for GBV victims, and helped create educational posters which were widely distributed across the supply chain.

Spier has also provided key support for Stronger Together’s South Africa programme, which assists agribusinesses to identify and address the risk of forced labour within their businesses and supply chains. The programme included a pilot assessment to identify manifestations of forced labour, as well as training and educational resources on modern slavery and human trafficking.

It received the highest rating for its amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) audit. The BSCI monitors and assesses workplace standards across the global supply chain.

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