If you’re hanging out in Brooklyn one night and you run into a massive craft fair with over a thousand sellers, you probably just stumbled upon the monthly craft night at the Etsy headquarters.
Not only does Etsy sell crafts that would look great on your living room wall and offer one of the only legit “you can work from home” job opportunities on the Internet, but it’s also doing amazing social impact work.
Katie Hunt-Morr, the phenomenal senior manager of values and impact at Etsy, recently spoke at The Heart Series conference, a new conference in Los Angeles where conscientious companies come together to discuss bettering the world. She also shared a wealth of insight during an interview with TriplePundit and through Etsy's progress report. Here are 10 nuggets of wisdom that can hopefully help you enhance your company’s social impact.
Once the data is collected, the information is shared with all employees. Hunt-Morr says the best practice is to “share with everybody so that everybody takes ownership."
She continued: “Executives and HR don’t comprise culture; they’re leaders, but every single person that comes into the office is bringing culture with them every day. Everyone is equally responsible and accountable.” This is different than traditional corporate engagement surveys which are analyzed by human-resources departments, read over by executives, then sometimes emails are sent to employees with the highlights.
The survey results are broken down and distributed to each team so they know what to work on. Each department may have vastly different results than the company as a whole, so it’s important for each department to see their results. Then adjustments are made to make employees happier.
Hunt-Morr says being a philanthropist isn’t really about giving money; it’s about sharing the mixture of your incredible skill-set, experiences, perspective and time. Etsy helps employees cultivate a deep connection to philanthropy and fully understands what it means to be a philanthropist.
Not every purchase is from a sustainable vendor; it depends on the size of the engagement. “We don’t want to get in the way of people buying a box of pencils. A company still has to function. With larger contracts, we will assess them for values based on the survey, do an interview, and then also do our own independent research,” Hunt-Morr says.
“We look at the assessment as an opportunity to start a conversation. We’re not trying to say, ‘We only work with companies that meet this score, have certain criteria, or do really well on our assessment.' If we can find companies that are interested and not active, that’s the sweet spot. That’s where we reinvent commerce,” Hunt-Morr says. “That aptitude for moving along the path is what we’re most interested in.” Then Etsy can provide companies with tools and have a deeper conversation about how to create more sustainable practices.
Survey points are tallied up, a score is given and an analysis is written. Then the decision to purchase from that vendor is up to the department spending the money. “It’s not to say that’s how we make our purchase decisions exclusively, because we also look at all the things one would normally look at when selecting a vendor. But this piece is a critical component.”
If Etsy can bring that amazing skill-set to those people, not only does it help them far much more than cleaning up a local park, but it also helps Etsy employees because it shows them what incredible experts they are and gives them a much deeper sense of fulfillment, Hunt-Morr says. The ability to share a skill with another human being is transformational.
That's not to say that Etsy doesn't donate. It does, and in very cool ways. For example, according to its most recent progress report, Etsy contributed $210,000 to Hacker School grants for women in tech and minorities that are underrepresented in software engineering.
So, each office is given a discretionary budget: the Good Neighbor Fund. This allows the office to connect with its community by donating to the local Halloween festival, Gay Pride event, or whatever is important to its neighbors.
The farm uses the compost to help grow 14,000 pounds of vegetables for local restaurants, residents and food pantries. Etsy also donates leftover food to food banks and shelters.
This isn’t the only way in which employees take trash seriously. They’ve also conducted dumpster-dives at offices in which a group of employees sorted through compost, recycling and landfill waste. They spread it across tarps, sorted and labeled items so they could see what people were bringing into the office and how they were discarding it. To their surprise, they discovered that a lot of the landfill trash was actually recyclable or compostable, so they upgraded their waste-disposal signage.
Etsy also refurbishes used laptops and donates them to nonprofits creating educational opportunities for disadvantaged students.
Each company is different and needs to create tools specific to them. The knowledge Etsy shares is just to give companies an idea of what they can create for themselves, and Etsy by no means thinks any company should use these tools without serious modification.
Etsy's willingness to share is admirable. In the company's annual progress report, Hunt-Morr even boldly includes her email address. If you want more information on something in the report, you can email her directly. Such openness and transparency is truly impressive.
Etsy also teaches sellers wholesale-industry lingo, tips on branding, pricing, policies and etiquette. It then helps sellers grow into a wholesale business and connects them with values-aligned retail partners. The retailers may be small boutiques or large chains such as Nordstrom. It’s an amazing opportunity for growth. A seller might start by sewing a few baby bibs and, the next thing you know, their products are in Nordstom. That’s a cool opportunity and empowers many sellers.
To help educate sellers, Etsy also sends out a success newsletter with tips and inspiration, online webinars, a Seller Handbook and guidance about how to handle the Christmas season's onslaught of orders. Sometimes Etsy also conducts in-person workshops.
The report also includes special thanks to 69 people for helping create it, which shows how supportive Etsy employees are about creating social impact.
Photo credits: Etsy blog 1) Photo by Paul Strabbing, 2) Photo by Admin visiting Ursula of EarthSeaWarrior, 3) Etsy blog