When I started SumOfUs five years ago I had little more than a laptop and an idea: that corporations had too much power over our lives and that it was time for ordinary people to stand up to them. Today I’m part of a global community of more than 10 million people who have taken action with SumOfUs. It’s incredible that together we’ve become such a big global force for change in such a short space of time.
This year I made the difficult decision that it is time for me to take on different challenges and hand over to a new Executive Director to take our community from strength to strength.
I’m so enormously proud of what we’ve achieved together. So, before I go I wanted to remind you of some of our greatest hits…
Saving our bees
One of our earliest campaigns was to help protect the world’s bees from dangerous and harmful pesticides produced by chemical companies for profit.
SumOfUs members understand that all life is linked. If we lose one part, we all suffer. That’s why our community has mobilised in the millions to stand up for the planet’s bees.
Thanks to members likes you, we haven’t missed an opportunity to share our message at the Bayer AGM itself in Germany, and protest its support of bee-killing neonics. We forced brands like Home Depot and Lowe’s to remove neonic pesticides from their shelves and recently we helped force the French government to announce a complete ban on the use of neonicotinoids.
That’s a huge win for people power.
Only a few weeks ago, Bayer announced a giant merger attempt with the other big producer of toxic chemicals, Monsanto. We’re gearing up for the mother of all battles to save the bees. If the deal goes through then the power of a combined Bayer-Monsanto company would be huge. It’ll take all our collective power to stop the deal.
Helping stop deforestation caused by conflict palm oil
Two years ago, we launched one of the biggest ever SumOfUs campaigns to stop conflict palm oil production. And what a campaign it’s been!
Together, by running petitions, protesting outside of stores and pressuring corporate executives, we helped force mega-brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and KFC into adopting sustainable palm oil sourcing policies.
One of our biggest targets is the snack food giant, PepsiCo. With thousands of small donations we launched a parody video exposing PepsiCo’s palm oil policy that went viral — with over 20 million views. PepsiCo sat up and took notice and came out with a new policy.
But PepsiCo’s policy still has a huge loophole: it doesn’t cover its producer in Indonesia. That means that deforestation, worker exploitation, and the destruction of the habitats of orangutans, rhinos, and elephants is still happening.
We need to amp up the pressure on PepsiCo to cut its ties to conflict palm oil — but we can’t do this without your support.
Protecting workers’ rights around the world
More than 1,000 people were killed when a garment factory collapsed in Dacca, Bangladesh.
Our community knew we had to act to get justice for workers. We worked closely with partners around the world and on the ground in Bangladesh to harness the power of global consumers to pressure clothing brands to do the right thing for garment workers.
SumOfUs members handed in letters to GAP store managers, and chipped in to bring Bangladeshi trade unionists to the United States to try to meet with Walmart executives. Because hundreds of thousands of us protested, we saw results: big brands took action and signed a fire safety accord.
We know that workers in factories are still often exploited, and global brands often look away when they see the big bucks rolling in. SumOfUs will continue to stand up for workers wherever in the world they are. We’ve proven our movement can play a critical role, and we’ll be continuing to make sure global brands live up to their responsibilities.
Stopping dangerous trade deals
Current trade policies are bad news for people and the planet. Global trade policy lies at the heart of a system that impoverishes millions, rolls back vital protections for workers and our environment, and allows corporations to override democratic decisions.
Two of the biggest trade deals — the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership — are being pushed by politicians and corporate lobbyists.
Our campaigns against the deals have leveraged the power of our global community making sure we were there at every secret negotiation or remote location where trade negotiators were selling us out to global corporations.
They show that when we work together our collective voice is louder and stronger than when we act alone, that is the meaning of SumOfUs, the sum is greater than its parts.
We’re making progress but we haven’t stopped these deals yet, and our campaign won’t be over until all these deals are dead in the water.
The fight to hold corporations accountable has never been more important or more challenging. It can often feel like we’re isolated and powerless in the face of the mighty and powerful, but what SumOfUs shows is that we are strong when we stand together.
When we come together in our hundreds, thousands, or even millions, we can take on huge corporations — and win! Even though I’m stepping down from my official role as Executive Director of SumOfUs, I’ll still be signing petitions, making phone calls, and showing up to demonstrations just like the rest of you. I have no doubt that all of us will keep fighting, and together we’ll achieve our mission of challenging corporate power and reshaping our world in favour of people over profit.
Keep fighting the good fight!