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 nearly 85% of Americans aren’t able to take paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only highly industrialized country that does not mandate paid family leave. That’s why we’ve been voicing our support for Paid Family Leave laws in all 50 states, including in our home in New York. To continue these efforts, we’re proud to partner with the New York Paid Leave Coalition.Starting January 1, 2018, New York became the fourth state to officially launch a Paid Family Leave program, which means that New York’s working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.
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diverse workforce, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, is both outdated and insufficient, as only 60 percent of our workforce is eligible for FMLA protections.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.
You may have seen the Paid Family Leave page in our Mother’s and Father’s Day print catalogs. What “Paid Family Leave” means is this: family members can go on leave from work to take care of a newborn or seriously ill family member for a period of time, while continuing to receive some or all of their usual pay and benefits. The United States doesn’t have a paid family leave policy–we’re one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t, and the only developed country–and we are for changing that. We decided we wanted to advocate for it in our catalog.
We’ve always been a socially conscious company, working to use business as a force for good. But this is the first time we’ve communicated to our customers directly about a specific issue. We’re excited about it and a little nervous. We know not everyone will agree. We’re not trying to tell people what to think. What we’re hoping to do is raise awareness and build resources to take action.
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.
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.
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.
While our business has grown a lot since our founding in 1999, UncommonGoods’ commitment to positively impacting the communities we touch has not wavered. If you’ve shopped with UncommonGoods before, you know that being socially conscious is a concept baked right into our company DNA. From founder and CEO Dave Bolotsky meeting with President Obama, to advocating for small businesses, to paying our lowest-paid seasonal workers more than 50% above the federal minimum wage, to advocating for mandated paid family leave in the State of New York, UncommonGoods has been able to successfully champion progressive business practices since from day one. Below are a few choice highlights from our mission in promoting social good.