Certification system

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If you’re reading this blog, I know you’re interested in living more sustainably and ethically. You would never knowingly buy a product made with child labor. You wouldn’t give your money to a company that discriminates based on gender, age, religion, race or sexual orientation, or that pays its CEO over 100 times what the company’s average employee makes. And you definitely wouldn’t knowingly support a company that destroys the environment.

And yet, you – I, we – do all the time. Because of the complexity of today’s global economy, we don’t and can’t have a personal relationship with the companies we buy from. We can only see their logo, the price, their customer service, and sometimes (but not always) the quality of the product. Hidden behind all these factors is the real story of whether a company is contributing or taking from society and the earth. I’ve grown frustrated with the ease in which companies can obfuscate and lie about their supply chains, and I know many of you agree.

The new certification system GoodWell is trying to change that. Founded by former consultant and tech entrepreneur Pete Golbert, Goodwell has created a simple yet powerful system to ensure the companies we buy from meet essential standards of humanity – and that includes the entire supply chain, from the cotton to the boutique, the copper to the electronics store.

They are currently in the process of recruiting one million consumers to join the certification, with the ambitious goal of eventually having 100% of companies worldwide operating by the GoodWell standard, a standard they see as pretty basic. If you would like to be a founding member, it’s $35 to join and support a unified conscious consumer organization. 

MUMBAI, INDIA - 12 JANUARY 2015: Indian worker sews in clothing factory in Dharavi slum.

The Three Certification Points

GoodWell bases its certification on these three things:

Measurement: Goodwell requires companies to measure 13 simple metrics every year. Each metric has a pass/fail threshold. A company must pass all 13 metrics in order to become GoodWell Certified. The metrics have been designed to be easy to understand, measure and report against, and are intended to reflect the minimum behavior deemed for companies to be humane in the world today. You can see them in detail here.
Audit: All companies must have their metrics audited by an independent third party on an annual basis to ensure both the collection methods and results are valid.
Supply Chain: In order for a company to become GoodWell Certified, they must purchase from GoodWell Certified companies. This critical element creates a cascading effect in the supply chain to make sure all levels are complying with the GoodWell standards.

Founding Members

GoodWell has a massive mission to create a world where all businesses operate with basic humanity. In order to achieve that goal, it needs funding and support. If it can successfully recruit 1,000,000 members, GoodWell will achieve three goals:

  1. Create a powerful voice: Imagine the power of 1 million united voices spread throughout the world, urging companies to change the way they operate!
  2. Provide funding: Your contribution will help to create an endowment for GoodWell called the Founders Fund, which will ensure that GoodWell can continue to fight for what is right without having to continually seek donations to further the cause. GoodWell is committed to funding its core operations through the interest earned from the Founders Fund.
  3. Maintain independence: The Founders Fund will ensure GoodWell’s independence and dedication to the cause. It will never be forced by outside funding to compromise its values.

They chose $35 as the starting point because it’s not a painful amount for the average consumer, but it’s enough to require a commitment from founding members who truly believe in the mission.

You can become a founding member here.

GoodWell logoHow GoodWell Measures the “Good”

The GoodWell Code of Conduct is a moral guide to doing what is right as a corporate citizen, and GoodWell believes it’s not only good for humanity, but good for business. After all, by treating all of your constituencies well, businesses create customer loyalty, engaged and dedicated employees and suppliers, supportive communities and a sustainable earth – all excellent for long-term business health.

Companies must not pay their CEO excessive sums as compared to the average worker.
Companies must not pay executives excessive sums as compared to the average worker.
Companies must give equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or religious belief.
Companies must provide a safe working environment.
Companies must treat their employees well.
Companies must not employ children.
Companies must not used forced labor.
Companies must not use part time workers in order to avoid paying benefits.
Companies must pay a living wage.

Companies must strive to GoodWell certify their supply chain.
Companies must treat their suppliers / vendors with respect and work with them as partners.

Companies must support the communities they work and live in through charitable donations.

Companies must respect the environment and work to minimize or eliminate all environmental harm in order to create a sustainable long term business.

I Have Questions!

Of course, I had some questions for founder Pete Gombert, which he gamely answered.

EcoCult: Will you report on exactly where the money is going?

Gombert: The financials of the organization will be shared annually with the Founding Members as part of our Annual Report to ensure full transparency. The contributions made by Founding Members are dedicated to going towards the Founders Fund, which is an endowment for the core operations of GoodWell. GoodWell is committed to running the core of the operations out of the interest generated by this fund in order to ensure we can remain completely independent from any outside influence and focus exclusively on the issues which are important to our Founding Members. Incremental revenue will be generated by the companies seeking certification and that revenue will be used to spread the message of GoodWell to ensure the GoodWell logo is recognized as the essential measure of corporate decency globally.

E: What is your expected timeline to hit 1 million members?

G: We would love to hit 1 million members by December 31, 2016. All of our efforts in 2016 will be focused on recruiting members. There are literally hundreds of millions of people globally who care about these issues, but getting them to rally behind one effort is difficult and we are going to need every bit of help we can get. The voice of the conscious consumer is too fragmented right now, and a fragmented voice is a weak voice. GoodWell wants to create one powerful voice that cannot be ignored and has both the economic and social influence to create real systemic change.

E: What are you going to be doing before you hit 1 million members?

G: Recruiting members. Without the unified voice mentioned above it will be difficult to create real change, so until we gain the critical mass necessary we will be focused almost exclusively on our recruiting efforts. I say almost because we are having concurrent conversations with business to understand their issues better and get feedback on the metrics we have put forth.

E: Do you have any companies interested in the certification yet?

G: We have been having some incredible conversations with business. We have received a lot of attention from companies who are really interested in a unified code of conduct.  There are far too many different certifications and standards out there and none of them seem to be universal. We have had conversations with small non-profits, government entities, small business, as well as multinationals. Their response has been pretty much consistent across the board: “This is the most well-thought-out approach to corporate responsibility we have ever seen.” If we can get consumers to make decisions based on the presence of the GoodWell logo, the businesses will be on board quickly.

There’s a lot more to see on GoodWell’s website, including Gombert’s backstory, so I encourage you to go over there and learn more!