A full version of this article was originally published in the v29 edition of Trim Tab.
Like all companies, we’ve put a lot of thought into how to make our business the absolute best it can be. With a commitment to being a conscious company, we decided to pursue the JUST Label, a nutrition-like label that measures social equity and transparency within an organization, administered by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).
Two of our team members sat down with ILFI to tell the full story of Stok’s journey to JUST. Here’s the abridged version of how transparency transformed our business operations and culture for the better.
JUSTifying the journey
It started in 2014, when one of our team members attended the Living Future unConference and learned about the JUST label for the first time. We quickly found that transparency is a difficult and polarizing subject to broach in the workplace. Although JUST would allow us to share our successes, it also required us to publicly share our shortcomings. This openness and vulnerability was initially a confronting thought.
About a year later, we went through what one might call organizational soul-searching, and ended up redefining and rebranding our company. When it became clear that social justice and equity were inherent to the foundation of our new company, we had no choice but to align our business operations with our new vision, values, and services. It was time to overcome our fear of vulnerability and change, just as we urge our clients to, and pursue JUST.
When we first filled out our JUST label in 2014, it was discouraging. We had a lot of categories with zero or one star, which we originally saw as a failure.
We shifted our perspective around low scores; we chose to see them as opportunities for improvement instead of failures. Instead of being disappointed that we were scoring low in those categories, we decided to use the JUST label as a framework for improving our practices and policies.
We spent the last six months of 2015 identifying our areas for improvement, analyzing costs, and prioritizing amendments to our company handbook. Starting January 1, 2016, we began to offer the following thanks to JUST:
- Four days of paid time off for volunteering each year
- Gender pay equity
- Three months of paid maternity leave and two months of paid paternity leave
- 100% covered dependent healthcare and dental options
- $750 annual continuing education stipend
- 59% locally sourced goods and services
To be fair, our pursuit of the JUST label came at a time when we were already rethinking a lot of our internal policies. Making that many changes at once is likely not feasible for most companies. But by viewing the blank spaces on your JUST label as opportunities for growth, you too can begin to move in the right direction and use JUST as a pathway for that.
More than JUST a label
We saw immediate results from the changes we made through JUST. Just a few months after publishing our first label, we collaborated with local non-profits to take a classroom of first graders to a national park in San Francisco to transform a multi-acre piece of land into the city’s second official campsite.
Before pursuing JUST, this trip would not have been possible for stok. Everyone that volunteered came back to work refreshed, inspired, and reminded of why we do what we do every day.
Even with all of the internal improvements we have made, our label isn’t perfect. But through the JUST process, the greatest lesson we learned was to embrace vulnerability. Because with it comes humility: admitting that you’re not perfect, but doing what you can in the spirit of fighting for what’s right and constantly striving toward improvement.
We now believe that our social justice metrics are at least as important as financial metrics. And we humbly invite our employees and clients to dive deep into our JUST label and point out where we have room for improvement as an organization. We’re excited to share our story and hope you will join us and ILFI on this journey to social equity.
Read the full story of stok’s journey to JUST on Trim Tab!