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Corporate Advocacy

The Uncommon Life

Doing Good, in Brooklyn and Beyond:
A Look Back at 2017

December 26, 2017

At UncommonGoods, we strive to be more than a business: We strive to be a force for good. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind, high-quality handmade goods to our customers, we’ve made it our mission to use our business to help improve the world we live in. As an independently-owned company with 18 years under our belt, we’re lucky to have the freedom to act according to our convictions, providing our workers with a living wage and a generous paid family leave policy, donating thousands annually to our Better to Give partners, and supporting makers who create a positive social and environmental impact wherever possible.

Of course, this isn’t all that we do each year. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re supporting causes we believe in as effectively as we possibly can, and we’re always trying to make sure that UG is a great place to work. (Side note: Being a great place to work, like most things, requires a lot of trial and error, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that being open to change and putting our employees’ needs first are key points for us.) This year, we’re letting you in on our proudest achievements, from work we’ve done within our Brooklyn warehouse to relationships we’ve built with new nonprofit partners. Read on for more on what we’ve done #InsideUG, with our Better to Give partners, and within the B Corporation community.


#InsideUG

Samples line the walls in our newly renovated office, complete with custom woodwork.

Here at UncommonGoods HQ in Sunset Park’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, we’ve made some improvements of our own. In June, we announced the launch of our Guiding Principles, a series of seven carefully formulated standards by which we at UG strive to lead our professional lives. With values like We Are a Force for Good, We Are Open-Minded, and We Are Always Learning, we’re encouraged to foster a culture in which we respect one another and consider our company’s impact on the world. (But more on that later.)

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The Uncommon Life

Push for Paid Family Leave: Takeaways from Capitol Hill

June 6, 2017

The 850 pieces that are included with our “50 States – Puzzle Within a Puzzle” are designed to create 50 different mini puzzles, so that each state presents its own unique challenge to the puzzled participant. These mini puzzles can only be united as states once all of the extra-large pieces are fitted to the whole.

After my recent trip to Capitol Hill, I would argue that this design is an accurate metaphor when it comes to the politics around paid family and medical leave.

Translation: Paid family leave legislation is a paradox. The US is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, paid family leave legislation has only passed in four states. (Our handy interactive map will tell you what’s going on in the other 46 states!) Given that only 14 percent of US workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, it’s evident that something needs to change at the national level. With today’s diverse workforce, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, is both outdated and insufficient, as only 60 percent of our workforce is eligible for FMLA protections.

That’s why I joined business leaders from Seventh Generation, Badger Balm, Eileen Fisher, Honest Company, and more to voice UncommonGoods’ support for the FAMILY Act to members of Congress.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) meeting with business leaders to discuss the FAMILY Act. | Photo courtesy of the American Sustainable Business Council

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The Uncommon Life

Introducing Family Values @ Work

April 3, 2017

Family Values @ Work | Better to Give

UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters, we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but most Americans can’t afford to take time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Thanks to a lot of active voices (including ours) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the strongest paid leave policy in the United States last year. However, there is still more work to do.

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The Uncommon Life

Can Business Help Change the World?

March 23, 2017

The B Corporation community often compares the value that B Corp certification is for business to “what Fair Trade certification is to coffee, or USDA Organic certification is to milk.” When we became a founding B Corporation in 2007, we committed to meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. While we are proud to exceed the standards required by our certification, there is more work to do in using our business as a force for good. We know that we wouldn’t be true to our values if we didn’t take a stand for causes we believe in. What could happen if the value that business brings to workers’ rights has the potential to be what the Civil Rights Movement was to human rights, or what the Women’s Suffrage Movement was to voting rights?

On International Women’s Day, we took an important step in our corporate advocacy efforts by announcing the launch of our interactive Paid Family Leave Map, a resource to learn the status of your state’s paid leave campaign and take action.

Most Americans don’t get paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. Click the map to help make paid family leave happen where you live.

During the launch, Jay Curley, the Senior Global Marketing Manager for fellow B Corp Ben & Jerry’s, visited our team to speak to us about how businesses can be activists and help change the world. We couldn’t have been in better company that day. Ben & Jerry’s has a long, successful, and delicious history of advocating for important causes through creative campaigns. Ever enjoyed a carton of “I Dough, I Dough”? That flavor was created for their campaign to support marriage equality. What about a scoop of “Save our Swirled”? That flavor was created to send out a SOS for our planet. Ben & Jerry’s is not only an inspiring example for B Corporations, but also an example of how a business can incorporate advocacy initiatives to reflect its core company values.

David Bolotsky, Founder and CEO of UncommonGoods, and Jay Curley, Senior Global Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s

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