Impactfully No. 87: Activist Investors

Best Buy is beset on both sides by a foray into the DEI culture wars, and we dive into recommerce and other ways to make shopping more sustainable.

Impactfully No. 87: Activist Investors
Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández / Unsplash

This week, I'm highlighting a recent SEC filing in which Best Buy offered to screen donations to LGBTQ nonprofits following pressure from one of its activist investors. Money talks – more on that below.

I've also loaded up this issue with tips and links to support sustainable shopping habits alongside thoughts from my personal experience with them. Recommerce is my new favorite word, and I hope it joins your lexicon. Off we go!

~ Greg

What we're reading

Best Buy agreed to screen donations to LGBTQ nonprofits after receiving a series of emails from National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank. (NBC News)

  • Best Buy says it hasn't changed the way it donates to LGBTQ nonprofits as a result of the pressure, but the Human Rights Campaign, a major nonprofit which awarded Best Buy top marks on its Corporate Equality Index, has expressed concern over the email exchange.
  • This isn't the first time a company has been under fire from one side or another. Bud Light famously imploded last year after partnering with a transgender influencer.
  • The takeaway, more broadly, is that large, well-established companies are being sucked into the culture wars whether they want to be or not.
    • A generous read of the situation is that Best Buy was trying to placate the conservative activist side without compromising their approach to DEI; conversely, HRC is saying that working with NCPPR is inconsistent with allyship.
    • In short, companies face pressure to be for or against. If they try to find a middle ground, they get attacked from both sides.
  • For what it's worth, the last 100 years seem to favor the side of inclusion. Hopefully this is an easy decision on their part.

Wirecutter has updated their guidance on shopping sustainably, which pairs perfectly with our resource of the week below. (Wirecutter)

  • Some of the guidance will seem obvious – do you really need to buy this? – but some of it is insightful.
  • For example, I love the idea of asking yourself how you will use the purchase in a few years. I've been surprised by how little I use in my house now that I'm going through closets (more on that later), and I think that one question would have spared my wallet and the planet on multiple occasions.
  • They also spotlight the concept of buying used instead of new. I have some links to recommerce websites in the resource of the week that you can use as a starting point.
  • If you have something sitting in your shopping cart now that you're mulling over, look over these tips first.

Job of the week

My mom got her start in early childhood education, so this week's company stood out from the rest. Brightwheel is a software platform that supports childcare centers with their day-to-day operations so they can spend more time teaching. They're hiring for a bunch of senior-level roles, like Lead Product Manager, Head of Talent Acquisition, and Chief of Staff, all of which are remote. If you want to help children and are looking to change jobs mid-career, this is ripe territory.

Community roundup

  • Real estate websites are starting to add climate impacts to listings, and a majority of homebuyers are considering climate factors when browsing. (Axios)
    • I experienced something similar early this year when browsing homes out west. We were in the Portland area, and one of the builders was talking about the filtration system they were putting in each of their homes. It took me a second to realize they were changing their HVAC designs to address smoke from wildfires.
  • Denver is offering grants to small businesses and nonprofits to help them adopt greener transportation options like e-bikes to support local deliveries. (Denver7)
  • The percentage of students who are chronically absent – meaning they've missed more than 10% of school days throughout the year – has roughly doubled since before the pandemic. (NYT)
    • What's striking is that the trend persists across income, race, and population density factors.
  • Walmart is investing in community solar projects in five states. Once the projects are completed in 2025, they will support 7,000 community solar subscriptions – households that get the benefits of solar power without having to own their own panels. (Electrek)
  • Rare minerals are required to support battery production for clean energy technologies. India and other major countries are now investigating the use of submersibles to mine underwater. (BBC)
  • The Biden administration has restored provisions of the Endangered Species Act and added a new rule that prevents agencies from considering the economic impact of declaring a species threatened or endangered. (CNN)

Hot job opportunities

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Resource of the week

I'll be moving later this year, so I've been going through the rooms in our house looking to downsize and donate. One of the areas hit hardest was our master closet – I've been holding onto shirts longer than I should have, and I had a couple of pairs of shoes begging to be put out of their misery.

As a result, I have been digging into the idea of recommerce: this is kind of like having a thrift store online for used products, often run by brands themselves instead of by resellers. Trove, one of the companies I've featured in the newsletter in the past, is a platform powering recommerce by brands like REI, Patagonia, and Cotopaxi. The partners page linked above will take you to a bunch of recommerce stores if you're looking to make your shopping more sustainable.

I needed some new slip-ons, so I hopped over to Allbirds ReRun and found a pair of lightly used shoes. Honestly, they looked as if someone had only worn them for a week – totally worth it. My next challenge? Shirts and shorts for summer.

Test your knowledge

Carbon emissions got the spotlight in last week's trivia question. Although greenhouse gas emissions have remained roughly flat across transportation, buildings, and heavy industrials, the power industry has seen a decrease. A key driver is the availability of cleaner technologies – wind and solar in particular.

For this week, let's take a look at a term you'll see a lot in the context of social enterprise: the triple bottom line.

Triple bottom line refers to a company accounting for its social, environmental, and financial performance as opposed to focusing its entire energies on profit. Turns out this term is nothing new – it actually dates back to 1994. Who coined the concept?

Email me your guess, and I'll send one lucky winner a couple of One Work stickers!

I am perusing Portland-area eats on Instagram ahead of my trip later this week and learning about "pop-up" restaurants – who knew eating could be a limited-time offer? You can find me on LinkedIn and Threads.

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Jamie Larson