Swag at Automattic: Ethical sourcing

One aspect of our travels to Vietnam and Cambodia over the Christmas holidays was that Kim and I both struggled a lot with how cheap clothing was. If a shirt costs $1, there is no way everyone in the supply chain got a fair wage out of that, even if the cost of living is cheaper in those countries.

Raising questions within Automattic

So when I got back from that trip, I wanted to ask our events team: do we think about the supply chain and the impact on the environment? I was a bit hesitant to post this internally for a few reasons:

  • I didn’t want to upset anyone. It took me quite a few years to start thinking about these things and considering them when I make purchases. I can’t expect others to change overnight. By asking if people were thinking about this, there’s a chance my colleagues would think I’m questioning their ethics, which wasn’t my purpose at all.
  • I’m potentially making goodies more expensive for our company. If our company takes ethical production into consideration, it’s more expensive than going for the cheap stuff. To be honest, I wasn’t that worried that Automattic would see the supply chain as more valuable than doing it cheap, but still, we’re talking about quite a bit of money here.

We use an internal WordPress system we call P2s – it’s a theme you can use as well. When I posted my questions on our events P2, I was a bit nervous for the above reasons.

Answers that make me proud

There was no need whatsoever to be nervous. On the contrary, our events lead straight away indicated that we were already in the process of finding a more sustainable company than we’re using now for our t-shirts.

Immediately, several other colleagues jumped in as well: supporting the ideas, bringing suggestions, and simply being totally on board.

It makes me proud to work for Automattic. We’re not just a company that tries to make the web a better place, we’re a company that tries to make the whole world a better place. I know and realise we’re only a small company in a big world, but I am proud that we are leading the way towards a more sustainable and empowering future.