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High Road Workplace

High Road companies see their employees, the communities in which they operate and the products and services they provide as equally important to their financial success. These companies hold a long-term perspective and view the workplace as a means to create significant business and social impact. They reject low-road business models that exploit employees and disregard the environment as the basis for success. High Road Employers know that, logically, their businesses are likelier to thrive and grow when they strengthen their marketplace by operating responsibly and compensating employees fairly.

High Road Employers implement paid sick days, family medical leave insurance, diverse hiring, fair wages, retirement plans and other workplace practices and policies that attract and retain productive, loyal employees. These practices create High Road Workplaces that, according to a 2015 U.S. Department of Commerce brief, both provide better working conditions for employees and save businesses money by reducing costly turnover, hiring and re-training; quality control failures; accidents; absenteeism; and low customer satisfaction.

The value of High Road practices is obvious to ASBC member Eileen Fisher. “The strong commitment people feel toward Eileen Fisher is very much driven by our values that people are important,” says Director of Social Consciousness, Amy Hall.  “We care about our employees and we want them to take care of their families and bring their best selves to work.”

High Road Workplaces do more than benefit employees and the bottom line. They also benefit American communities because they reduce employee reliance on taxpayer-funded safety nets, put more money into our local economies, and improve the wellbeing and future prospects of families. Yet despite the clear moral and economic benefits of the High Road, some employers continue their substandard workplace practices. As a result, they burden the U.S. economy as a whole and penalize companies that do pay their fair share.

As the structure of work changes, employers and workers face new challenges and opportunities. In the shadow of the Great Recession, a new compact must be created between employers and all types of workers -- employees, independent contractors, contingent workers and members of the on-demand, “gig” economy. This new compact must proclaim that the High Road is the only road, and affirm that sustainable success depends on mutually beneficial partnerships founded on respect and returning productivity with fair pay and good benefits.

To that end, the American Sustainable Business Council, in collaboration with diverse businesses, advocacy and thought leaders, has developed a set of guiding principles. These principles are both practical and aspirational, to serve as a guidepost for this new compact and as impetus for more companies to become High Road Employers. These principles also are intended to help drive new public policies and market-based initiatives that support the sustainable economy of the future.