Divine Chocolate was founded by the Ghanaian Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union (KKFU) – a cooperative of 100,000 cocoa farmers. The cooperative is a key shareholder of the Divine Chocolate business making it the only Fairtrade chocolate company that is co-owned by cocoa farmers. This means smallholder farmers receive a share of the distributable profits from the sale of our chocolate, and a say in how the company is run. As a company founded on Fairtrade principles, Divine Chocolate openly communicates their support for women’s empowerment and gender equality, through distinctive packaging, public campaigns and consumer-orientated events. Their annual reports and online corporate narrative indicates how gender inequality affects rights within the cocoa supply chain, and why it is a priority for the company to tackle this through how they do business as well as any programmes or initiatives they run.
How is this Gender-Responsive Due Diligence?
There are a number of clear ways that Divine Chocolate’s method of communicating about adverse impacts aligns with best practice GRDD Step 5:
- A dedicated area of their website links their focus on women’s empowerment to the sustainable development goals (goal number 5), as well as their expert knowledge around how women are more negatively affected by adverse impacts in the supply chain, and what they are doing to tackle this.
- Information provided online about the make-up of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union – the cooperative which is a shareholder of Divine Chocolate – is disaggregated by gender.
- Divine Chocolate provides annual reports that date back to 2008 online – these include insights on gender equality, lessons learned on gender programming, as well as some data being disaggregated by gender. They also discuss wider due diligence issues of child labour and deforestation in the cocoa industry – openly communicating the risks the sector faces.
- As a registered B-Corporation company, Divine Chocolate transparently reports online against the requirements to achieve the B-Corporation standard – this information is both on their own website and the B Corporation website.
- Divine Chocolate communicates about gender equality through a number of platforms to increase accessibility, including online, messaging in their wrappers, YouTube, and partner websites such as Fairtrade and B Corporation.
“Divine Chocolate communicates about gender equality through a number of platforms to increase accessibility”
By communicating openly about the focus they place on gender-responsive due diligence, we can observe some important achievements from Divine Chocolate over recent years:
- 35% of the 100,000 farmers that make up the KKPU cooperative – the founder and a shareholder of Divine Chocolate – are women. The cooperative has also had two female Presidents in the past 20 years, one of whom is currently still serving.
- Divine Chocolate has put women’s empowerment front and centre of its brand. The Empowering Women chocolate bar was launched in 2017 to mark International Women’s Day – the packaging included a story of individual women farmers inside the wrapper to highlight the work these women do.
- Within their open and regular reporting, Divine Chocolate has captured the specific impacts they have had around gender equality through creating a standalone report – Empowering the women cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo – detailing 20 years of progress towards gender equality in the cocoa sector. This provides a timeline of activities, key partners, successes achieved, and lessons for others.
- They have also openly communicated about specific gender focused programmes online, including how they are focusing on removing barriers for women through literacy
- The 2019-2020 Annual Report highlights the five priority areas (GRDD Step 2) for driving sustainability in their supply chain – one of which is gender justice. Within gender justice, sub-priorities have been identified, including education, training, womens’ economic empowerment and addressing land rights. The report disaggregates some data by gender, openly shares lessons, and highlights future priorities including supporting a partner cooperative to develop a gender policy and gender action plan (GRDD Step 1).
- In 2018, Divide Chocolate launched a multi-platform, multi-partner (over 400 in total) campaign championing women’s empowerment. Their specific aims were to reach new audiences through creatively delivered messages and engage retail customers and consumers. See page 7 of the 2018 annual report for details.
“Due to initiatives such as introducing quotas, 35% of Kuapa Kokoo’s membership are now women; it has had two elected women presidents, half their national executive committee are women, and women hold elected positions throughout the organization.”
– SOPHIE TRANCHELL, Former CEO, Divine Chocolate
Lessons and recommendations for others
- Divine Chocolate have positioned gender at the centre of their mission-driven business. This not only helps to ensure a gender lens is applied to all aspects of the business, but also means the most pertinent risks to women are identified.
- Disaggregate information in your annual reports by gender to transparently communicate how your impact is affecting men and women differently.
- Look beyond your website for places to share information – Divine Chocolate makes good use of social media platforms including YouTube and Instagram to talk about the business generally and gender and women’s empowerment in particular.
This case study was written in collaboration with Plan International and Partnering for Social Impact.