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TFT's values: truth, respect, courage, humility and compassion
TFT's values: truth, respect, courage, humility and compassion
News Mar 9, 2016

What are TFT's values? TFT's Hilary Thompson explains.

As of January 2019, The Forest Trust has become Earthworm Foundation.

What is TFT’s business model?

The TFT model of Values, Transparency – Transformation, Verification is a central principle of how we operate. It’s in the blood and DNA of every one of our 250-odd staff spread around the world. It links us and our members together.

When a company wants to join TFT there needs to be a moment of personal connection and reflection. Not just for TFT, but also for the company we are working with. We look CEOs in the eye and ask ourselves, ‘do these guys share our values and really want to come on a meaningful journey with TFT?’

The answer isn’t always yes. Sometimes during these initial conversations it’s the CEOs who decide that in fact they don’t want to go on that journey. Sometimes they leave the meeting with a look on their face that suggests they think we are nuts.

But there have been many more times when there’s a meeting of minds. They look at TFT and say, ‘I think these guys are real and sincere and they have come in here with pragmatic solutions for my business and I want to work with them’. So we agree to work together. We collaborate on a work plan, agree the budget and communicate together, but above all we agree to be TRANSPARENT about all of this.

What are TFT’s values?

Another big part of TFT’s DNA is our values of truth, respect, courage, humility and compassion. This is summed up in our video about the TFT Coat of Arms. These values guide all of us TFT’ers on how to behave and conduct ourselves.

So when we are challenged by stakeholders to share ‘the assessment tools against which you assess member company progress’ we have no easy response. There are few formal documents sitting there. No rigid ‘assessment tool’ and no ‘criteria’ per se.

Remember TFT is no fan of certification, (you can download Scott Poynton’s book, Beyond Certification here). We’re no big fans of ticking endless boxes to no real end, or auditing – not unless it’s true and credible third-party verification. Our members’ real and credible progress in implementing change in their supply chains is not measured by such tools as these.

Instead, it’s measured on an ongoing basis. Not quarterly or annually, but daily and by all and every one of our staff associated with our members’ work. The work plans are monitored, progress updates are posted transparently, but the commitment and will of the company teams we work with are also measured and assessed by our staff.

This is done with respect. With knowledge of what is the truth from what we can see and hear on the ground. With courage and humility – because we may find problems that we must highlight. And also with compassion, because the work we do is no easy task.

For example, one of our biggest members was recently suspended by TFT because our staff working with the company collectively came to the decision that not enough progress was being made for the work to be real and credible. Six months later the same staff agreed they had seen enough progress to reinstate that member – who has since made huge progress.

So every one of our 250+ staff are holding each other and our members to account on a daily basis and we are transparent about our work and our progress. That in a nutshell is how TFT assess members’ company progress. It’s not limited to a excel spreadsheet, although we do use these to collect data – it’s in our heart and our DNA and in how we live our lives every day.

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