B Corp Community Spotlight: UncommonGoods
UncommonGoods is an online and catalog retailer of creatively designed products from independent makers and designers. Since their founding in 1999, they’ve incorporated sustainability into every decision they make. They’ve worked to minimize our environmental impact, using sustainable or recycled materials, choosing environmentally friendly packing materials, and printing our catalog on Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] certified and recycled paper. They’ve built relationships with non-profit organizations through Better to Give, a program they created that allows customers to choose a partner for them to donate $1 to with every order, with over $1 million donated so far. And a concentration on strong financial health allows them to maintain independent ownership and stay true to our values. We spoke with David Bolotsky, Founder and CEO.
What Matters Most to Us
“We believe sustainability starts with integrity in everything we do, treating each stakeholder inside and outside our company with dignity and respect.”
What We Learned
“As a founding B Corp, we’re currently completing our fifth assessment. The process challenges us to ‘walk the walk’ and be transparent about our business practices and values. Most important, it encourages us to attain ever-higher levels of sustainability, by identifying areas for improvement across issues touching the environment, workers, customers, community, and governance. It’s both humbling and inspiring at the same time.”
What We Did as a Result
“We have taken on several initiatives that have directly impacted our B score, including composting, developing a whistle blower policy, and tracking the paid volunteer hours our team members use. By hiring workers from chronically underemployed populations and communities, paying our entry level workers at least 55% above the minimum wage, and making donations to our Better to Give partners, our current Community score is 47% above the median B Corp score.”
Features/Improvements We Are Looking Forward To
“With the recent release of the new assessment, there are a few focus areas that we are looking forward to improving. This includes developing an intern handbook and determining what best practices we can implement to encourage more team members to use their paid volunteer hours. Being a B Corp further allows for us to be a part of a larger community where we can collectively advocate for business as a force for good, including legislation that supports Paid Family Leave and raising the minimum wage much closer to a living wage.”
Going That Extra Step
In addition, Founder David Bolotsky said participating in Best for NYC: “has been a positive way to bring the B Corp values to our hometown at large.” As part of the Best for NYC challenge UncommonGoods took advantage of the Financial Counseling services offered by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and Bolotsky was delighted to provide this benefit. “Having a Financial Empowerment Counselor on site was an opportunity to improve our interested team members’ financial understanding. Participants left with knowledge of their credit score (and how that can impact their lives), a breakdown of their current budget, how to inquire about credit charges, or about saving for the future. Many of these team members are paying usurious interest rates on credit card debt and the counseling is an important step in helping them blaze a trail to financial freedom.” Most participating team members recommended this service and were enthusiastic about the next steps that could be taken to help improve their financial standing,” said Bolotsky.