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Etsy's IPO Is a Direct Challenge to Wall Street's Beliefs

Will investors embrace a company that says it cares about more than the bottom line?
Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy Inc., right, at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2015.

Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy Inc., right, at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2015.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Etsy's initial public offering is about to question Wall Street's conscience: Will investors embrace a company that wants to do good while it does well?

For three years, Etsy has been what's called a certified B Corporation—a distinction given to companies that pass demanding standards of benefiting the community, environment, employees, consumers, and suppliers. At the Brooklyn-based artist's marketplace, this includes giving all employees 40 hours of paid volunteer time every year, paying employees more than 40 percent above the local living wage, and covering 80 percent of workers' health insurance premiums, according to the company's 2013 Values & Impact Annual Report.