Press Release: Concern over Changes to Etsy Values Leads to #EtsyStrike

For Immediate Release: July 2018   

Concern over Changes to Etsy Values Leads to #EtsyStrike

Consumer Strike organized for July 16, 2018 in response to changing values at Etsy.

Read submitted statements from the community on changes to values at Etsy here. 

Click here to download this press release as a PDF | Original call to action from June 2018 here

IMPORTANT: Letter to Etsy Inc. Board of Directors, July 16 2018 http://bit.ly/lettertoetsy

In response to changes in values at Etsy community stakeholders are calling for a day of action on July 16, 2018 when new tiered plans and rate increases go into effect. This action is not in retaliation for fee increases but in response to radical values and culture change at Etsy. For the purpose of this action “stakeholder” is used as defined by B-Lab’s criteria for B-Corp Certification to include employees, the community, the environment, suppliers, customers, & shareholders.

The reasons for organizing a consumer strike and action by stakeholders are as follows:

  • Termination of Etsy’s B-Corp certification, values-aligned programs, and mass layoffs of staff responsible for social projects has resulted in a loss of trust & respect for Etsy’s claims to be a socially responsible company. As one of the first B-Corp certified companies to go public Etsy committed to socially responsible business practices and are accountable to the shared values that made community stakeholders willing to support the company as it scaled.
  • Values that generated media attention, built public trust, and grew awareness of Etsy in order for it to achieve success were based on “business as unusual”.  Major changes to Etsy’s core values undermine public trust in social enterprise and set precedent for other B-Corporations to not follow through on commitments.
  • Despite continuing to use the language of a socially responsible business throughout the site Etsy no longer has a corresponding commitment to measuring those values and has published no progress reports since 2016 prior to the changes in CEO, mission, and lapse of B-Corp status.
  • Etsy’s decision to prioritize shareholder value over community stakeholders and the resulting change of mission from the specific goal to “reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world” to the three word “Keep Commerce Human” along with replacement of clear language, objectives, and programs to measure social and economic impact with vague terms show a lack of respect for commitments.
  • Recent changes to Etsy’s values and culture are in opposition to what differentiated the company from retailers such as Amazon or eBay and made it truly special by providing a socially responsible source to purchase from independent sellers while democratizing access to business for millions of entrepreneurs.
  • Lack of transparency & accountability around terminated values aligned projects including: Etsy Wholesale; Etsy Studio; Etsy Maker Cities; plans for seller health insurance; creation of an Indigenous Seller Handbook & policies to support Indigenous artists; the Etsy Advocacy team & others does not support the ongoing promises to “build for the long term” or consideration for the “thoughtful consumers” and community who contributed to these initiatives and overall company success.
  • Concern for Etsy exploiting marginalized/underrepresented groups targeted by the company to achieve social impact goals. Unlike freelancers who have a Freelancers Union to advocate for their 57 million members, Etsy’s 2 million sellers are primarily women & do not possess unions, trade organizations, or collective advocacy groups.

The goal of this action is to:

  • Bring forward concerns and organize a critical response to changes in values at Etsy with the goal of negotiating a company recommitment to core values and socially responsible business practices including the standard B-Corp commitment to not prioritize shareholders over stakeholders.
  • Inform consumers of changes in values at Etsy so they can make thoughtful choices about whether to support the company as a shopper or seller or take action.
  • Act to hold Etsy accountable to changes in values by uniting in collective action to demonstrate that community stakeholders and consumers are a major force for disrupting business as usual.
  • Advocate for proper representation and consultation during major decision making and transparency around program termination.
  • Encourage consumers to renew personal commitments to reimagine commerce in ways that build a lasting and more fulfilling world by making thoughtful purchases and holding companies accountable to the values they earn trust with.

Ways to participate in the action on July 16:

  • Concerned stakeholders can submit a statement http://bit.ly/etsystatement before July 16 to be presented to Etsy by organizers on the day of action.
  • Feedback on changes to values at Etsy can also by sent by contacting Etsy directly (scroll down the dropdown menu to “More options” and select “Suggestions or Feedback for Etsy”) or request a call (only available in English).
  • Start conversations about changes to values at Etsy on and offline. Connect with others using hashtags #etsystrike or #fellowmakers
  • Organizations can divest of partnerships with Etsy if they no longer align with organizational values as Maritime Makers has recently done.
  • Directly supporting sellers of handmade, vintage, or craft supplies on July 16. Ask if/how changes to values at Etsy impact them and what kind of support they need to succeed.
  • Current Etsy sellers can also participate in any of the above actions or by putting their shop on vacation, moving platforms, or leaving one active listing and driving traffic to their own domain.

Additional Sources/References:

Original call to organize an action by Jessika Hepburn of Oh My! Handmade/Maritime Makers here.

High resolutions graphics here http://bit.ly/2J5THFw

Selected community statements on changes to values at Etsy http://bit.ly/etsystatement

For press inquiries contact Jessika Hepburn at editor@ohmyhandmade.com