Economic Justice June 12, 2020

Etsy’s COVID-19 Response: Supporting The Small Businesses That Support Us Daily

Eatsy foodservice in the Brooklyn Office

Etsy has a goal is to build a diverse, equitable and sustainable supply chain that brings value to our company and our vendors. In February 2020 in our integrated report, we set a target to ensure at least 50% of Etsy’s small and medium-sized enterprise suppliers are owned by women, minorities or veterans by 2022. It’s important to us that the vendors and suppliers that enable us to operate our offices and broader business include strong representation from marginalized communities.

One way we achieve this is through our global lunch program, Eatsy. At every Etsy office, we come together twice a week to share meals that highlight the diverse cultures in our community. Eatsy helps us to build community and connect employees with each other, while supporting local like-minded farms, caterers, restaurants, distributors and independently-owned snack and beverage companies within our local food system and communities.

So when Etsy’s offices closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked ourselves: How can we help these partners, especially the most vulnerable, sustain their businesses during such uncertain times?

What actions have we taken?

In March, we committed to honoring and paying in-full our existing contracts for all of our vendor partners, whether or not they were able to provide service. And, when we had to cancel food service in our offices on short notice, we asked our food vendors to donate the food purchased on Etsy’s behalf — over 1,000 lbs — to local food banks.

In May, we created a Workplace Vendor Fund to distribute $100,000 to support our small business partners that have been most affected by COVID-19. With this fund, we are prioritizing the global food service vendors who cater our Eatsy lunches, staff our events and keep our entire company nourished with healthy, flavorful snacks. Many are women-, veteran- or minority-owned, and they share our values when it comes to sustainability and running a responsible business.

In setting up our Workplace Vendor Fund, we aimed to make sure that we can distribute funds efficiently and equitably to those with the greatest immediate need. We particularly wanted to understand COVID-19’s impact on the vendor, what percentage of their income comes from Etsy, whether they were able to receive government aid and if so, how they planned to use it. Vendors across our global offices were eligible to apply for funding in May, and funds were distributed mid-June.

Upon review of vendors’ applications, it was clear that these businesses had been seriously impacted as a result of COVID-19. Few, if any, had significant income since March and only 30% were able to retain employees other than business owners. The food vendors who applied took care in documenting their financial and workforce impacts from COVID-19 and many shared both business plans for the future and heartfelt narrative descriptions of their plans for operational pivots to stay afloat. The best of these applications expressed shared priorities for adapting and preserving the livelihoods of caterers and their employees, maintaining supply chains for quality local foods, and giving back in meaningful ways to their communities.

For example: Brooklyn caterer Kreung Cambodia submitted a proposal to provide food to Southeast Asian communities in the Bronx. SF caterer Picnic on Third shared a proposal to provide no-cost food to frontline workers and those experiencing hardship from COVID-19.

We issued 20 financial awards to food vendors in Brooklyn and Hudson NY, San Francisco, CA and Dublin, Ireland. During this difficult time, Etsy is thankful to be able to give back to the small food businesses that have been feeding our employee population in our offices for years. Vendors were so grateful to hear that they would be receiving financial awards and felt truly supported by Etsy.

From Katy McNulty owner of BK vendor Pixie and the Scout:

“We are so grateful and encouraged by this generous grant. It will be of enormous help to us. The challenges of this time have created numerous opportunities for our company to serve the community and strive to remain a steadfast part of the regional food ecosystem. This grant will help us in our efforts as well as help us as we take strategic action to emerge from this crisis with an even deeper understanding of and commitment to our mission and values.”

Another one of Etsy’s long standing vendors is AHRC, an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. AHRC staff provides cleaning and kitchen services to Etsy’s Brooklyn and Hudson offices. Their organization experienced significant hardship during this crisis with staff members and program participants impacted by the disease, in-person social services needing to pivot to be remote, and more. As a result, AHRC’s Foundation established a COVID relief fund to help close some of the budget gaps that they are facing. Etsy stands with AHRC and will contribute a $75,000 grant to this fund.

Read more about how we are taking care of our employees, contractors and vendors here.

Why is this important?

We believe in the power of business to strengthen communities and serve the needs of the people around us. Our vendor partners are some of the hardest hit from the economic downturn as a result of non-essential business closures and shelter-in-place orders. Additionally, many of them are from communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It is our hope that this financial support can provide some peace of mind and security for the partners who have long taken care of us. We will be continuing to think through how we can support our partners until we can be sharing meals and hallways again.

  • COVID 19
  • etsy
  • food
  • future of work
  • Workplace culture
Althea Erickson

Althea Erickson