My job is to listen, and to encourage others to be excellent listeners. Listening means being open to hearing what people need and want, what works and what doesn’t. Listening gives others, especially those who haven't been heard, a voice, and this is key to creating and maintaining a good verification system. Furthermore, as someone who has been committed to human rights since high school as a direct result of watching my mother take a stand for civil rights, I know that listening is the cornerstone of progress and change.
A verification system is a way to give voice to the people in cocoa-growing communities and it’s one of the three core principles of the Cocoa Life program. A verification system is an external set of eyes and ears, both looking and listening, to make sure that the program is doing what it set out to do. It’s similar to the model of verifying in the financial sector where books are kept and then auditors check those books. The big difference, however, is that money is quantitative and should be black and white, while human rights are qualitative and therefore not as clear-cut. Verification is how Mondelēz International ensures that the Cocoa Life program is actually supporting the people it’s intended to help.
There are four key elements that create and maintain a strong verification system:
1. Clear Definitions
The most robust verification processes begin by clearly defining what the verifiers will be measuring.
2. Quality Team
It is critical to carefully select high quality verifiers including social scientists, statisticians and researchers (this is called evidence-based policy making) who make sure that the program is in keeping with the standard policies and procedures outlined by the Cocoa Life program.