The following is excerpted from Issue 15 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can engage your employees and contribute to your communities by developing a strategic corporate citizenship plan, consider joining us in San Francisco on November 2-4, 2016 for our Corporate Citizenship Strategy: Connect to Your Business and Community course.
For companies with a smaller operational footprint—even though they may have national or even global brand exposure—great value can be achieved by developing a foundational ethos, applying that mission to every aspect of business, from design through delivery, and incorporating it into community involvement strategy.
Founded in 1991 by Marcia Maizel-Clarke and Merlin Clarke, Dogeared, a global accessories brand that focuses on handcrafted jewelry, was built on the premise of community. The company sources the majority of products and materials locally from vendors around the Los Angeles area. Local artisans handcraft all of the company’s unique charms, and jewels are designed and assembled on-site in their Southern California studio.
The company believes in making good things happen and working with dignity and purpose. The company has achieved both business and social value by considering the social and environmental impacts of its product lifecycle, and partnering with causes that are meaningful to its 110 employees. Dogeared has developed a number of internal teams to create a focused and strategic approach to corporate citizenship, and to ensure that the values of its workforce are represented.
Dogeared joined forces with other B-Corporation companies to paint a 30’ x 50’ mural on Lincoln Blvd in Santa Monica, CA.
“Internally, we have a Culture Committee, and Be Balanced and Karma in Action teams. These teams focus on empowering and educating our employees to collaborate and grow in new ways that add value to our corporate culture,” said Dogeared co-founder Merlin Clarke. “The Culture Committee is comprised of our executive team and focuses on the long-term strategic initiatives that will drive meaningful and impactful corporate social responsibility—from sourcing vendors to employee benefits and energy reduction, to name a few. The Karma in Action team is a group of Dogeared employees who meet monthly to accelerate employee engagement, recognition, outreach and volunteering, company events, and new ways to give back. Finally, our Be Balanced team focuses on the health and wellness of Dogeared from the inside out. They oversee and lead everything from Walking Wednesdays to health fairs and blood drives.”
This process has led to significant partnerships with community organizations, nonprofits, and schools, such as the Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, CA—a free public high school in South Los Angeles that uses the environment as a lens for real-life learning. Earlier this year, Dogeared welcomed the school’s Green Ambassador team—students that work with local companies and organizations to assess their environmental footprint— to conduct a sustainability audit to help identify new areas of improvement.
“As a company dedicated to making a difference, partnering with Environmental Charter Schools and their Green Ambassadors was a win-win opportunity,” said Clarke. “We were able to offer these extremely talented students the chance to apply their learnings in a hands-on way and gain valuable experience. We were also able to take a step back from our core business and look at our operations with fresh eyes. It’s so easy to forget that we can improve our day-to-day routines. We know that there’s always room for improvement.”
The Green Ambassador audit is just the most recent way that Dogeared has measured and evaluated its corporate citizenship progress in recent years. The company became a certified B-Corporation in 2011, a process that required considerable analysis—and one that has resulted in even greater efforts to meet rigorous standards on social, and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
“We know that as a company, we’re doing good for the world, but it’s a powerful motivator to have specific metrics that can indicate to what extent. When we share these results with our team, it fosters employee engagement and allows us to collaboratively choose initiatives to drive continued success,” said Clarke. “Employee working groups spearhead projects to continually improve our B Corporation efforts with programs like extended maternity/paternity leave, vetting ethical suppliers, and innovative ways of reducing energy consumption.”
By maintaining its core focus on the surrounding communities of the business and a commitment to continual growth and improvement through thoughtful measures, Dogeared offers proof that a company at any size can drive significant impact in its community.