Etsy Gets Certified as a B-Corporation

Despite Etsy‘s recent bad press, the online marketplace is a one-of-a-kind for crafters, artisans and people who love their work. It also lets you know about the artisans and craft-makers who live close to where you are so that you can buy something that is truly local. The website features everything from furniture and fashion to toys, clothing, pottery and other home decor.

Many artists use only reclaimed or organic materials and you can also browse vintage items to further lessen your environmental impact. Etsy has been creating a business platform for small crafts-people for the last seven years and now it has gone a step further and become a certified B Corporation™.

To be certified, enterprises have to 1) meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance; 2) legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests; and 3) build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. As of January 2012, there are over 515 Certified B Corporations from over 50 industries, representing a diverse multi-billion marketplace.

B Corporations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. According to CSRWire, Etsy will be among the biggest, in good company with Patagonia, Seventh Generation, and most recently, Recyclebank. Certified companies are rated on rigorous standards of transparency, accountability and performance. According to Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson:

“We believe becoming a Certified B Corporation is one of the most important things Etsy has ever done. It helps us keep an eye on the mindful, transparent, and humane values we aspire to. The B Corp assessment gives us a framework for measuring our success against rigorous values and responsible practices as we scale as a company.”

Etsy’s unique business model enables people anywhere to build and exchange directly with independent, creative businesses. As of May 2012, Etsy has 15 million members and 875,000 sellers in over 150 countries. In 2011, Etsy’s sellers grossed more than $525 million in sales.

Etsy practices many sustainable initiatives within their business – these include offering loaner bicycles to employees, hiring local small food businesses that incorporate in-season ingredients, donating office compost to a Brooklyn community farm, and regulating office energy consumption.

However, with Etsy it is not just what they do to make their business more sustainable but rather what they are trying to do to change the face of consumerism by encouraging small businesses and discouraging mass produced goods.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net