This Labor Day, everyone gets to ditch work for a day to celebrate, uhh, working. While you hang out by the pool or drink end-of-summer cocktails on your best friend’s roof, I doubt you’ll spend much time really thinking about the history of labor or the impact it has had on our present day institutions and communities. While I’m not here to give you a history lesson (but really, look it up), I do think it’s important that you spend a little time this weekend thinking about labor practices and workplace culture– especially what your own employer does (or doesn’t do) to make your working life better. In order to get the conversation started, I’ve rounded up 10 progressive companies that are doing creative things in their workplaces to mix it up: whether it be pro bono employee enrichment programs, fun volunteer initiatives, or serious diversity and inclusion programming.
10 Companies That Are Doing Exciting Things To Better The Workplace:
Keds, one of my favorite classic shoe brands, has set their philanthropic goals for 2015: empowering young women to take their career aspirations seriously. They are currently running a campaign, The Brave Life Project, that is allocating $50,000 of grant money to helping young girls jump-start their dream careers– whatever that dream may be. As they urge on the project’s site, “Success takes moxie, a willingness to take risks and pursue your dreams. The Keds Brave Life Project will provide girls, like you, with opportunities to take these positive risks, develop the confidence to be true to themselves, and build supportive networks.”
Etsy was created in order to re-infuse the human, the authentic, and the community-centric into the global/local marketplace. The online shopping site is famous for its unwavering support for craftsmen, artists, and small business owners. Not only do they provide entrepreneurial training for small-scale artisans, they also have incredibly flexible and humane labor policies for their HQ workers (including 5 days of PTO to do community volunteering!) Seriously, how cool would it be to work for Etsy?
No one knows more about employability than LinkedIn– so it’s a good thing that they’re putting their resources into creating professional networks for people in underserved communities. Through their LinkedIn For Good program, the tech company is planning to create an economic workforce for every member of the global workforce, through programs that help youth, STEM, and veterans connect with local businesses and nonprofits.
Starbucks, who’s already made headlines for their progressive College Achievement Plan, has teamed up with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) in order to create an employment program that provides capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions, which then delegate the resources to community businesses, housing projects, and community centers in underserved communities. Starbucks has seeded the project with a $5 million donation and has a bunch of red, white, and blue swag to give out if you donate $5 or more!
Macy’s award-winning employee volunteer program, Partners in Time, has been putting serious wo/manpower into helping the world for over 25 years. The volunteer program, made up of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s employees, spent over 188,000 hours volunteering in 2014 alone! The areas in which the company’s volunteers focus are: arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS, and women’s issues. Go Macy’s!
For every IHG employee that pledges to do an athletic activity (climb stairs at lunch, bike to work, etc.), IHG promises to make a donation to the Shelter in a Storm fund. Some of their zany pledges include: a no soda challenge, a no driving challenge, and a group walk across the Harbour Bridge in Old Sydney! What a way to bring co-workers together in a way that matters.
Next time you need to buy some office supplies at Staples, take a moment to appreciate how diverse the employee demographics are. That’s because the company takes inclusion and diversity in the workplace really seriously. Not only were they named one of the most trustworthy companies by Trust! Magazine this past Spring, but they’ve also been listed as a top employer for LGBT and Latino communities. As part of their campaign to support gender equity, they recently hosted an inaugural Women’s Week, and are participating in two gender equity initiatives (Corporate Challenge and 100% Talent). They also signed a pro-LGBT amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to legalize Same-Sex marriage. So, next time you have to buy pens, I think you know where to go…
The Hyatt also works hard to ensure employee diversity, inclusion and comfort: through the creation of employee network groups that provide support and mentorship to minority employees. Two major groups, that work on a national level, are HyPride (which works to ensure that The Hyatt is an LGBT friendly workplace and advocate) and Women@Hyatt (which works to foster a female-friendly workplace).
The Honest Company has teamed up with Rebecca Minkoff to create a handbag that directly supports FINCA: an organization that works to alleviate poverty in Guatemala by building assets, creating jobs, and raising the standard of living for women and their families. The handbags, which are sourced and inspired by the vibrant Guatemalan city of Solola, were woven by a dozen female artisans who depend on this handiwork for their livelihood. I like how this merchant initiative works to target labor injustice from such multiverse angles, and it doesn’t hurt that the bag is so darn cute.
This fancy men’s shirt brand is bringing the Clothing Drop Box to your front steps, by including a return package in each purchase, so that you can send back gently used clothes for them to upcycle and donate to those in need. The company has partnered with CareerGear in order to donate your re-purposed clothes to help the jobless, homeless, and disaster stricken. As they say: poverty knows no seasons. And cleaning your closet feels good.
Research for this post was conducted by Kelsey Gerber