With the economy the strongest it has been in recent years and a low unemployment rate, companies finally feel free to go all in on a corporate social responsibility plan. In fact, according to a recent Refresh Leadership poll, 92% of respondents said their companies participate in some form of corporate social responsibility. These include donating and/or matching funds to charitable organizations, participating in food or blood drives, allowing employees time off to volunteer, and more. Although having a community-focused company culture is a great way to attract and retain top talent, it is also the mentality of some of the most successful businesses in the world. In a way, the old saying rings true—the more you give, the more you get. Here are a few of the most community-focused companies and what they’re doing right.
For most of you, it isn’t a major surprise that the first company on our list is Microsoft. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been monumental in the fight against poverty and lack of education. And this mentality of “the more you have, the more the responsibility” is at the heart of Microsoft. According to their website, the computer company’s total annual giving surpassed $1 billion in 2014, including cash donations of $119 million and in-kind donations of $948.6 million. But it’s not just about donating money and goods and services, it’s about the future of tomorrow. The company has trained 99% of their employees on Standards and Business Conduct, championed the rights of privacy and freedom of expression, and has spent time and resources to continue their commitment of renewable energy and carbon neutrality.
Though not as big of a juggernaut as Microsoft, TOMS Shoes was one of the first companies started in recent years in which its entire business model is set on community involvement and social responsibility. TOMS implemented the “One for One” business model concept that allows the consumer to directly be involved in the company’s corporate citizenship. Whenever a customer purchases a pair of shoes, the company donates a brand-new pair to a person in need. According to their website, Toms has donated more than 45 million pairs of shoes to impoverished children. Since its inception, the company has grown its “One for One” policy to include eyewear, coffee, and bags. Each product raises money to help with eye health, the need for water, and the necessity of maternal health, respectively. Since TOMS started in 2006, similar companies based on community involvement have sprouted, including Warby Parker that gives eyeglasses to those in need, Better World Books that donates a book for every book sold, Figs that donates scrubs to healthcare providers in developing countries, and many more.
With the help of a legal, addictive stimulant, Starbucks has taken the gourmet coffee bean and brought it to the masses. In 2014, there were more than 21,000 Starbucks worldwide—and with the increase in brick and mortar comes the increase in the need for beans. The company has instituted ethical sourcing and purchasing methods to ensure the farmers are paid their fair share. The Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices help maintain economic transparency, social responsibility, and environmental conservation. The company also supports the Starbucks Foundation, which in 2014, gave $13.1 million in the form of 144 grants to nonprofit organizations, including youth and social development grants.
These community-focused companies have gone beyond simply using “giving back” as a publicity stunt—they are doing it because it is ingrained in their company culture. Depending on your specific business, one of these profiles may work for you. If you want to get more involved in corporate responsibility, take a profile of your company. Decide if one of these companies’ examples works for you or figure out ways you can make a bigger impact in your community. Being socially responsible doesn’t necessarily mean you need to donate millions of dollars, give away free clothing to those in need, or develop a plan to ensure farmers across the world are treated fairly. It could all start with a simple food drive.
How does your company give back? What are some other businesses you admire who are champions of social responsibility? Let us know in the comments section below!