Fashion seasons and runway shows without animal fur. Organ-on-a-chip technologies for testing cosmetics and other products. A transition to cage-free and crate-free systems that can change the lives of countless chickens and pigs in vast food supply networks. Plant-based meals in major restaurant chains and university cafeterias. Bird-friendly design and architecture in the built landscape. Anti-freeze that doesn’t poison animals.
Every day brings new reminders that we now live in a world in which corporate reforms make a dramatic difference for millions and millions of animals around the world. That’s why we pursue corporate social responsibility campaigns as a fundamental priority in our work. It’s also why we recognize corporations, trade associations and other actors for the steps they take to relieve animal suffering and ensure the greater protection of animals through more enlightened business practices and policies.
Within the Humane Society family of organizations, we celebrate such successes most prominently with the Henry Spira Corporate Progress Awards, named for the pioneering animal advocate whose characteristic approach centered on encouraging corporations to change by working with them, often in private, rather than by castigating them through public shaming.
This year, we’re honoring two Spira Award winners. The first of our honorees is Pizza 4P’s, the first company in Vietnam to adopt a cage-free sourcing policy. The Ho Chi Minh City-based restaurant chain’s new policy is part of a holistic sustainability strategy that stretches from farm to table. This means the eggs that the company will use will no longer come from hens confined in cage systems, so small or crowded in which birds can’t even spread their wings. Humane Society International helped to support the company’s transition to cage-free egg suppliers, and now Pizza 4P’s works closely with these suppliers. The company’s partners feature prominently in the company’s social media, a strategy designed to educate consumers about its corporate philosophy. Pizza 4P’s, which will complete its transition by the close of 2021, has 20 locations nationwide in four provinces, serves 5,000-6,000 customers per day and uses 360,000 eggs per year.
In September 2020, Nordstrom, our second honoree, announced it will end its sale of fur and exotic skins by the end of 2021. This makes Nordstrom the first major American department store to ban both fur and exotic skins. The policy includes all 600 locations of Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and Last Chance in North America, and its e-commerce sites, HauteLook.com and TrunkClub.com.
The HSUS worked closely with Nordstrom to implement the policy, part of a broad cascade in the fashion retail sector, to spare the suffering of mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, rabbits and chinchillas on fur farms. Macy’s, Inc. (Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) announced a fur-free policy in 2019, and since Nordstrom’s announcement, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus have also gone fur-free. Nordstrom’s announcement solidifies U.S. retail’s move away from fur products and paves the way for new animal-friendly alternatives and is sure to be of help to us in our work to ban fur sales in cities and states across the U.S.
When Henry Spira began his advocacy efforts in the 1970s, victories like the ones recognized here were few and far between. Philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, who helps to select the award winners each year, recently said this about his friend, who passed away in 1998: “Henry Spira spent his entire adult life advocating for those who lacked the power to improve their own situation, whether they were African-Americans forced to go to the back of the bus, merchant seamen sold out by corrupt union bosses or animals exploited in laboratories and factory farms. Henry pioneered the tactics of working through corporations to bring about change. He believed that most corporations are led by people who would prefer to do the right thing, if they were given the opportunity to do so—although in some cases, such as his campaign to persuade Revlon to stop blinding rabbits, Henry had to make it clear that to miss the opportunity would be to risk serious damage to the corporation’s image.”
The fact that we can celebrate such successes every year is more than a nod to Spira’s powerful example: It’s a tribute to the extraordinary progress we are making together as a movement.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.