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7.0 Non-Profits and Non-Profit Cooperatives

7.0 Non-Profits and Non-Profit Cooperatives

Social Stewardship Standards for Farms, Ranches, and other Food and Agriculture Businesses (2019v4)

Employees of nonprofits should have the same rights and protections as employees of food businesses. Non-profit organizations should meet the standards in section 3.0 (farm employers) or section 4.0 (non-farm employers), depending on the type of business, unless the certifier determines that they are not-applicable (example, if the non-profit does not offer housing, section 4.4.1 does not apply.) However, non-profit organizations have unique structures which are not completely covered by the standards in section 3.0 or 4.0. Thus, in addition to these standards, the following apply:

7.1. Democratic Board Member Selection and Processes #

a. Board members are selected based on a transparent and democratic process which is a written policy of the organization and is made available to staff. Board nominations/positions are also open to the communities or stakeholders that the program claims to help.

b. Board meetings are scheduled in advance with enough time for all members and members of staff to have notice of the meeting.

c. Agendas and minutes from board meetings are available to all members of the board and staff.

d. There are clear channels for participation of staff in board decision making, such as opportunities for comments and input in advance of Board meetings.

e. Board members are qualified to make decisions related to the organization’s mission, and have experience directly related to the topics covered by the non-profit.

f. In case of new or changing areas of work in staff activities, board members are informed and given the opportunity to comment with respect to the organization’s mission.

7.2. Clarity of Responsibility and Tasks #

a. Lead staff member(s) (i.e., Executive Director or equivalent) has/have clear and detailed job description(s) with associated tasks which cover all areas of work of the organization.

b. If new tasks or areas of work are added by the organization, a discussion takes place between board and lead staff member(s) to ensure that the new tasks are assigned fairly, and job description does not exceed normal working hours.

c. A decision-making policy has been agreed upon and is clear to lead staff member(s), and lead staff member(s) knows/know who to inform and under what circumstances to ask for board approval of new or changing areas of work.

7.3. Conflict Resolution for Board Members and Staff #

a. The organization must adapt its conflict resolution policy so that it specifically addresses and details an appropriate procedure for managing disputes amongst board members, or between board and staff members.

b. This policy must be made clear to the board and staff.

7.4. Anti-Discrimination and Whistleblower Protection Clauses #

a. The organization will not discriminate in setting agreements, contracts, pricing, benefits, or any other capacity, on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, gender identity, age, handicap or disability, union or political activity, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, pregnancy or sexual orientation.

b. An organization cannot retaliate against anyone who reports injuries, whistleblower concerns, or activities protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.1 Whistleblower protections apply to many types of reports that people might make such as failure to comply with legal or professional obligations or regulatory requirements; dangers to health and safety; child protection and safety concerns; wage violations; hygiene and food safety issues; animal welfare; sexual harassment, physical abuse; criminal activity, environmental violations and financial mismanagement. This would also include complaints or allegations against a certified entity that would become a noncompliance after the certifier does their due diligence in investigating the validity of the complaint(s).2 

  1. Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for exercising their rights to file a complaint with OSHA, speak with an inspector, seek access to employer records of injuries or exposure to hazards, reporting an injury or raising safety and health complaints with the employer." ↩︎

  2. Complaints may be filed with the Agricultural Justice Project and complaints relating to an employee’s own personal circumstances, such as the way one has been treated at work, should refer to the certified entities’ official grievance policy and or procedures for conflict resolution. ↩︎