To: Etsy's board of directors and senior management.
Recommit to the values that built Etsy and aimed to build a better world for us all
As Etsy employees, we’re privileged to work at a company that takes its mission and values just as seriously as it takes its bottom line. Every day we come to work to support Etsy sellers in earning an income doing something they love. We work hard to support our sellers’ hard work because we believe everyone deserves a shot at being creative for a living, and because we’re part of a community—buyers, sellers, and Etsy employees—that’s committed to doing good.
For years we have worked to further the mission that brought us here: “To reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.”. We have embraced the idea of “business as unusual”, the concept that Etsy would not be run as a typical corporation, but as one that would lead by example in myriad arenas. Etsy has been an outspoken proponent of renewable energy, waste reduction, diversity in tech, net neutrality, portable benefits, and tax-code simplification for microbusinesses. These efforts have been led by teams of Etsy employees dedicated to advocating for our sellers and our company values, and by our outspoken community of sellers. They have been at the heart of our efforts as a company, not afterthoughts. Many of us work at Etsy because Etsy leads with its values.
In the last 90 days, Etsy’s board of directors and senior management laid off around 20% of our colleagues, our CEO and CTO stepped down, and many projects focused on the long-term growth of Etsy were canceled or put on hold. Those who worked on values-aligned efforts like the ones outlined above were hit particularly hard by the layoffs. We believe these changes represent a move away from Etsy’s mission and values, and we are feeling uncertain about what the future holds for us as Etsy employees and for Etsy’s community of creative entrepreneurs. To assure the Etsy community that the board of directors and senior leadership are committed to our stated company values, we have prepared a list of requests. We are asking Etsy’s board of directors and senior leadership to:
1. ...draft a plan to provide health insurance to some or all of our sellers. This would further Etsy’s ongoing efforts to support sellers as they navigate the challenges of being self-employed.
2. ...commit to maintaining Etsy’s 6-month parental leave policy for the long term. This policy takes direct aim at the gender-diversity problem in tech, an important problem to tackle for a marketplace whose seller base is nearly 90% women.
3. ...analyze the projects that have been canceled or ramped down in the last year, and to communicate—without blame or finger-pointing—to Etsy’s community why they failed and what we learned. We believe this will increase the trust the Etsy community has in us as a company, assist Etsy in planning for the long term, and help uphold our values of mindfulness, craftsmanship, and transparency.
4. ...institute a standardized severance policy for all employees. A standardized severance policy that includes fair pay and health care is the humane and transparent thing to do.
5. ...recommit to Etsy’s work towards building a sustainable future. Our past work helping sellers go solar, reducing waste in our facilities, and our commitment to being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2020 are key to Etsy's mission, and essential for the long-term sustainability of our marketplace.
Why is this important?
We ask for these things to assert that Etsy's community, along with its board and senior leadership, should have a say in shaping Etsy's future. While a renewed sense of focus and experimentation is welcome, many of the abrupt and often disruptive changes over the past few months seem designed to address the demands of black-and-white capital, a hedge fund that owns around 2% of Etsy’s stock.
While black-and-white capital might buy or sell on Etsy (and we truly hope they do!), they do not represent the tens of millions of people that make up our community. It’s honestly hard to tell if they represent anything other than a desire to enrich themselves and their clients (their website, bandwcap.com, remained blank as of 7/28/2017).
As employees of Etsy and members of the Etsy community, we believe that a business guided by a strong set of values, and in pursuit of an important mission, is worth fighting for. We value the long-term success of our sellers and buyers much more highly than the short-term profits of a hedge fund.
Our goal is to give voice to the aspirations we have for Etsy as Etsy employees. We are calling for transparency from Etsy’s leadership, and asking for a commitment from the company that it will do right by its community for the long term, not just for the next earnings call. If you are a member of the Etsy community and you believe in this vision, add your name to support us as we deliver it to Etsy’s leadership.