Taking Steps for Human Rights

Human rights is a very complex subject and may encompass everything from labor laws and treatment of employees to taking steps to help eradicate slavery or human trafficking throughout the world.

Human trafficking has received much international attention in the past few years and is a serious concern. By definition, human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol) was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000, and is an international legal agreement attached to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

While governments and many national and international non-governmental organizations have a primary role in protecting human rights, it is understood that every business and individual can make a difference.

At Tree Top, we understand the importance of our role as a good corporate citizen. We clearly publish, promote, and encourage every employee to understand and support our company’s values. For transparency and accountability, we publish the results of our efforts in an annual Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship Report which we publish to our web-site.

Our Company: Tree Top's Corporate Values guide how we conduct our business and how we expect our employees to conduct themselves on our behalf. Three of the five values directly address issues related to human rights:
  • Integrity: We do the right thing, communicating openly and honestly, exhibiting behaviors consistent with our words, and are accountable for our results.

  • Respect for Others: We build strong relationships – with our growers, employees, customers and business partners – based on mutual respect and support, valuing each other’s experience, opinions and diversity.

  • Corporate Citizenship: We are conscientious about our impact on the environment and in communities, and we do what we can to make a positive difference.

  • Leadership at Every Level: We adapt to our dynamic business environment, address challenges strategically, strive to improve performance and processes and lead by example.

  • Simplicity and Practicality: We strive for clear, concise communication abiding by few and simple policies, using simple solutions to avoid bureaucracy and complexity.

Guided by our values, an official Ethics Policy was adopted more than two decades ago to provide clear guidance to employees and directors about the expectations when conducting transactions or business with others.

Tree Top and Our Suppliers: Tree Top is a United States’ privately owned cooperative with eight fruit processing facilities and our headquarters in the western U.S. Tree Top owns a wholly owned subsidiary, Northwest Naturals in Bothell, Washington, to which this posting also applies.

As a U.S. company, we are held to all applicable United States’ state and federal laws. Tree Top is owned by approximately 1,100 apple and pear growers in the western U.S. from which we secure the majority of our fruit. Our grower-owners are bound by all applicable United States’ laws, including labor laws.

There are some fruits and some ingredients that simply aren’t grown or produced in the United States which require Tree Top and/or Northwest Naturals to purchase supplies from companies in other countries. In many cases, we are actually the supplier of fruit products and ingredients around the globe.

Vendors/suppliers are pre-screened and are asked to complete a very thorough questionnaire and to supply documentation to support claims.

California Transparency Act Compliance

In January 2012, the California Transparency Act (CATA) takes effect requiring companies doing business in California with more than $100,000,000 in world-wide gross receipts comply with the law by posting clearly to the company’s web-site how they are or are not addressing each of the items numbered below. Tree Top must comply with the CATA and below is a description of how we address each of the items listed under the CATA:

  1. Tree Top does not currently engage in verification of product supply chains to evaluate risks of human trafficking and slavery and we do not engage a third party to verify such.

    The company relies on its established vendor verification process to screen suppliers, which includes an extensive list of qualifying questions and required documentation to prove claims. Tree Top has recently added this statement/question to its Vendor Verification form: "Human trafficking and slavery are serious offenses against humans and Tree Top expects its suppliers to comply with all applicable state and governmental laws in the countries in which they are doing business."

  2. Tree Top does not conduct audits whether independent or unannounced of suppliers to evaluate supplier compliance with company standards for trafficking and slavery in supply chains.
  3. Tree Top does not require direct suppliers to certify that materials incorporated into the product comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business.

    Tree Top currently provides a statement of expectation to suppliers that they “Must comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business and any known violation will be grounds for immediate termination of the relationship.”

  4. Tree Top does not maintain internal accountability standards and procedures for employees or contractors failing to meet company standards regarding slavery and trafficking. The majority of Tree Top’s supplies are from growers and suppliers in the United States, which are also bound by the laws of the country which make human trafficking and slavery illegal and severely punishable. Should a supplier or any employee be found guilty of any such act, the employee/supplier would no longer be eligible for working or doing business with Tree Top. A database would be established if there was a known violation and there was a need to document the issue.
  5. Beginning in 2012, Tree Top will provide company employees and management, who have direct responsibility for supply chain management, training on human trafficking and slavery, particularly with respect to mitigating risks within the supply chains of products.