Dr. Bob’s Reads: Etsy’s “Keep Commerce Human”

My purpose is to help all people flourish by creating and supporting healthy organizations.  As a part of this purpose, I am committed to finding and sharing best practices and resources regarding purpose-driven leaders, teams and organizations.

Today’s best practices come from the Etsy’s 2018 Annual Report.  Etsy is a global, two-sided marketplace for unique and creative goods – they connect millions of buyers and sellers online from nearly every country.

Key takeaways:

  • Etsy is committed to “using the power of business as a force for good in the world.”
  • Etsy believes in “cultivating a virtuous cycle where their impact drives their business and their business drives their impact.”
  • Etsy’s guiding principles serve as their North Star and reflect how they strive to act. They enable Etsy’s stakeholders to have a greater impact as they work together to “keep commerce human” (Etsy’s mission).
  • We commit to our craft. Our work has the power to change lives. That’s why we strive to learn continuously and excel at what we do.
  • We minimize waste. Time, resources, and energy are precious, so we focus only on what will have the greatest impact.
  • We embrace differences. Diverse teams are stronger, and inclusive cultures are more resilient. When we seek out different perspectives, we make better decisions and build better products.
  • We dig deeper. The best solutions to meaningful challenges are rarely easy or obvious. We stay curious, balance our intuition with insights, and decide with confidence. We lead with optimism. We believe in our mission, and we believe in each other. We see the world as it is, set ambitious goals, and inspire one another with generosity of spirit. Together, we reimagine what is possible.
  • Etsy’s “impact strategy” outlines the specific ways they “seek to generate positive economic, social, and ecological value for our community and our stakeholders in a way that advances and supports our long-term business strategy.”
  • Josh Silverman (CEO, Etsy) asked his employees, “Where are we uniquely positioned to have influence in the world? There are a lot of problems in the world. There are a million things we could chase.  Let’s pick a few and do them with excellence.”  Etsy ultimately selected three ideas for its social impact efforts:
  • Economic empowerment: by bringing in more buyers, Etsy has put more money in their sellers’ pockets and helped them achieve their personal and financial goals.
  • Gender diversity: Etsy has achieved gender parity at the leadership level, including their executive team and Board of Directors.
  • Ecological impact: Etsy recently became the first global ecommerce company to offset 100% of carbon emissions generated by shipping.


Bottom Line

Etsy, by using their power to enhance the greater good, is an encouraging example of a courageous organization.  By understanding and building a long-term strategy around the “impact / results virtuous cycle,” Etsy has advanced their operational excellence and financial performance while stepping up to their corporate citizen responsibilities.

At Purpose & Performance Group, we are focused on helping courageous leaders and organizations that seek to generate positive economic, social, and ecological value for their community and stakeholders in a way that advances and supports their long-term business strategy.  Let us help you enhance the greater good by moving forward with intentionality, significance and excellence.

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