We are rewriting the rules for our local economy, inspired by grassroots organizing principles, small business and cooperative leadership, and the lived experience of working class residents of color.

What are they?

36 enterprise practices across 8 categories, designed to ensure that businesses we invest in together reflect the values and goals of Boston's working class neighborhoods of color. 

Why standards?

Ujima’s Good Business Certification helps shift our collective spending and support away from businesses that are harming our communities and the earth, and towards businesses building a community economy that we nurture and grow.

How does the certification work?

The standards are approved and updated yearly by Ujima’s voting members. Businesses interested in joining the Ujima Business Alliance (UBA) are evaluated by Ujima’s Community Standards Committee to ensure companies are in compliance with our standards.  In the UBA, businesses are eligible for benefits like access to capital, technical assistance, customer loyalty, sales advocacy and public support.


As a new community experiment to build a People's Economy in Boston, the success of Ujima depends on the participation and good faith effort of all of its stakeholders. 

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Women, people of color, and women of color in particular are disproportionately excluded from opportunities for business ownership. Enterprises owned by underrepresented entrepreneurs help growth wealth, jobs and resilience in working class communities of color.

Minimum wage laws do not ensure the full-time workers can meet their basic needs, and the number of “working poor” - especially amongst women of color - continues to grow in America. Living wages with benefits and equitable compensation policies can help reverse this trend.

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The lack of employee voice in decision making can create negative workplace environments that are unhealthy for both workers and managers. Structures that empower employees in relevant decisions tend to increase worker satisfaction and overall business efficiency.

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Businesses can play a vital role in transforming the racial health gap, by committing to practices that support the health and wellbeing of their workers and families.  

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Business that produce goods or provide services for local consumption are responsive to community needs and help build economic resilience in Greater Boston.

Businesses can help strengthen the economy by prioritizing local, socially responsible contractors, suppliers, service providers and other vendors. 

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The consequences of global climate change and pollution most negatively impact working class residents and communities of color. Social enterprises can challenge this tide by transitioning to ecologically responsible practices.

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Firms without practices for community participation are at higher risk for making decisions that alienate customers and harm their communities. Firms that incorporate consumer governance or maintain robust feedback channels will be better businesses. 

Good Faith Effort

1) Community Benefits Reporting: Complete a yearly Community Benefits Report. The Community Standards Committee (CSC) will use the Community Benefits Reportto track progress on all Ujima standards for the annual review and recertificationprocess. 2) Worker Satisfaction Survey: Allow employees to complete a yearly Workers Satisfaction Survey. The worker surveys will be anonymous and reviewed only by the CSC. We have notyet set a minimum satisfaction score to remain in good standing. 3) Ujima Participation: Attend at least 50% of meetings for the Ujima Business Alliance. The number of yearly meetings of the Ujima Business Alliance (UBA) will be decidedby the members of the alliance. If the business owner cannot attend, a representative from the business will be present. 4) Community Benefits Pledges: Set yearly goals through a Community Benefits Pledge. Community Benefits Pledges set goals for improvement above Ujima's minimumcertification standards.

Customers & Vendors

1) Product or Service Mission: Have a stated community or social goal for the enterprise. Business owners are expected to have a clear vision for how their company couldbenefit society. 2) Consumer Feedback Channels: Invite formal customer feedback opportunities. Because we're asking Ujima members to shop from our Certified Good Businesses,it's important for members to share critical feedback with business owners, ratherthan shopping somewhere else. 3) Ujima Purchasing Agreement: Adopt an Ujima Purchasing Pledge to purchase from other Ujima businesses. A Purchasing Pledge includes a review of vendors and contractors to identify opportunities to shift to Ujima companies. 4) Supplier Diversity: Where possible, at least 25% of overall vendors are People of Color owned. The 25% applies to discretionary budgets (not rent, utilities etc.) for sectors wherethere are POC businesses lists or directories.

Community Ownership

1) People of Color Ownership: People of Color own a majority of the business. For 2 person partnerships, at least 50% is owned by a person of color. For 3 or moreowners, a majority is POC owned. For nonprofits, a majority of the board is POC. 2) Commitment to Employee Ownership: Commit to an Employee Ownership Feasibility Study. The business owner(s) will attend a workshop about options for employee ownershipor profit sharing, and conduct a study to see if any could meet their financial andethical goals.

Worker Power

1) Workplace Democracy: Commit to an Employee Governance Feasibility Study. The business owner(s) will attend a workshop about options for employee governance and workplace democracy, and develop a plan for adoption if appropriate for the business. 2) Worker Board Seat: Allow at least 1 elected worker on a corporate board with outside investors. Most small businesses don't have formal boards. When they do, it's often for outside investors to have a seat at the table. In these cases, non managerial employees should also have a board seat to balance investor interests. 3) Collective Bargaining: No union blocking or intimidation. Employers should follow a Card Check Neutrality policy that recognizes the right of workers to organize, and prevents influence or intimidation in a union drive. 4) Open Book Accounting: Commit to an Open Book Accounting Feasibility Study. Open Book Accounting is a business practice where employers show non-sensitive parts of a company's financial statement to employees to increase transparency and efficiency. 5) Civic Engagement: Promote worker voting and civic engagement. Provide voter registration materials, paid time for voting and/or civic advocacy, referrals to Ujima's grassroots community partners. 6) Workplace Culture: Update policies and trainings to prevent workplace sexual misconduct. Written policies, regular trainings, women and/or transgender managers of color, and protected employee reporting channels are some ways to help prevent workplace abuse.

Health & Safety

1) Non Toxic Products: Commits to a Non Toxic Workplace Policy. Employers will conduct a review of workplace products and develop a plan to substitute unhealthy products. 2) Occupational Safety and Compliance: No unaddressed OSHA violations or complaints. An OSHA complaint or violation means that there is a complaint about the health or safety of the workplace. Ujima businesses must review and remedy any problems. 3) Health Benefit Information: Provide resources to access health insurance. Businesses with less than 11 employees are exempt from offering health care. These businesses will provide resources and referrals for employees to access existing options. 4) Employee Wellness Plan: Adopt Employee Wellness Plan. Engage employees to identify internal practices, culture shifts, new programs andoutside resources to address workplace physical, mental and emotional stress.

Good Local Jobs

1) Women Workforce: At least 33% of employees identify as women or gender non-conforming. Because some sectors have so few women, even a 33% requirement will be muchhigher than industry norms. For Ujima's higher certification levels (TBD by all of us),the CSC hopes to add stronger gender inclusion requirements. 2) POC Workforce: At least 60% of employees are People of Color. Supporting good jobs for working class people of color is a central reason UjimaProject exists. 3) Trans and Gender Nonconforming Workforce: Workplace policies center the safety and success of Queer and Trans Women of Color. Examples of these practices include: anti-oppression trainings; visible posting ofrights and resources for queer and transgender people, women, and people ofcolor; targeted outreach in hiring processes. 4) CORI Friendly Policy: Practice CORI (criminal record) Friendly hiring practices. For businesses that choose to run a CORI (most do not have to), follow Boston'sVendors Policy that only allows CORI checks to screen final candidates applying for"sensitive positions" 5) Sanctuary Business: Commit to Sanctuary Business Pledge to protect immigrant workers. A Sanctuary Business Pledge can vary between business sectors, but at minimumincludes a commitment not call ICE on employees, especially when in a labor orworkplace dispute. 6) Youth of Color Employment: If appropriate and financially able, host at least 1 youth summer job or paid internship. Businesses with workplaces suitable for youth can apply to host a summer jobthrough the City of Boston's SuccessLink Program. 7) Minimum Wage: 100% of employees are paid the state minimum wage. This would require jobs like servers and farmworkers, who are often paida"sub-minimum wage," to receive the actual minimum wage and not have todepend on tips. 8) Compensation Ratio: No staff is paid more than 5 times the lowest paid employee. The difference between the highest and lowest paid employee in major UScorporations has grown to over 350 to 1. A 5 to 1 ratio allows businesses to haveflexibility, but requires the lowest paid workers to receive a raise if the top salariesincrease too quickly. 9) Paid Family and Medical Leave: Early adoption of Massachusetts Paid Medical and Family Leave Law. Employers will develop a plan to begin phasing in Paid Medical and Family Leavebefore it's required start in 2021 (12 wks family, 20 wks medical). Employers will alsoencourage employee use of accrued time off and existing leave laws. 10) Fair Scheduling: Implement a Fair Scheduling Policy for hourly wage earners. A Fair Scheduling Policy includes at minimum: 2 weeks notice for work schedule,time off rules between shifts, hours to current employees before new hiring, and theability to request schedule changes without retaliation. 11) Fair Classification: No nonconsensual misclassification of employees as 1099 contractors. This prevents businesses from classifying workers as contractors to avoid payingtaxes and benefits. Sometimes other approaches to compensation may be allowed ifagreed upon by the recipient.


1) Green Energy Plan: Commit to a Green Energy Plan. This would include an annual energy audit and goals for energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable sources. 2) Zero Waste Plan: Commit to a Zero Waste Plan. This would include an annual waste and water audit and goals for recycling, composting, and waste reduction, including staff and consumer education.

Community Power

1) Civic Engagement: Promote community civic engagement. Maintain a physical or online space to educate customers about community issuesthat are sponsored by Ujima Project. 2) Voter Engagement: Promote customer voter engagement. For retail businesses, make voter registration cards and election informationavailable to customers. 3) Ujima Community Benefits Programs: Give preference for donations to Ujima’s Grassroots Nonprofit Partners. Some businesses have charity and pro-bono programs. Businesses should prioritizeoutreach to Ujima's Grassroots Partners for these opportunities.




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Joyce Clark

Health Chair, Boston NAACP


Luis Cotto

Program Manager, Mass Cultural Council


Mea Johnson

Lead Organizer, Restaurant Opportunities Center, Boston


Alex Ponte-Capellan

Community Organizer, City Life/ Vida Urbana


Ellie Tigalo

Worker Owner, Tanám