Impactful Business: Social Enterprises to Watch
Back in the day, at the end of the last century (yup, 20 years ago), corporate America’s most forward-thinking companies were realizing the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, and others with similar power, wealth, and influence had long realized that the private sector would have to step up in a big way to take on the world’s problems.
In the two decades since, the demand for CSR companies has only intensified as millennials reached an age where they influence purchases both directly and indirectly. Consumers demand transparency and expect that when they hand over their wallets, the recipients will do the right thing with the profits.
As a result, nearly all established companies are aligned with a cause or charity and see those alliances as strategic. O.G. brands are reconnecting with consumers by making smart choices in their CSR programs and the activities are paying off for the companies and the charities.
A Trend That’s Here to Stay
More and more companies are being founded with a mission to give back. TOMS gives shoes, Bombas gives socks, Warby Parker gives glasses … the list goes on. Recently Blue Angel Vodka was founded in order to raise money to give away to charities. CSR is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a fixture within corporate America.
It turns out, this business model is not only viable but in demand. Marketing teams are using CSR to their competitive advantage and making sure their markets know the company gives back. And these organizations are being rewarded for their efforts not only by the market but also by their employee base. It seems that CSR is an effective recruiting tool as well.
Beyond charitable giving, companies can also demonstrate their social responsibility by providing volunteer opportunities, reducing carbon footprints, improving labor policies, participating in fairtrade, establishing policies that benefit the environment, and making socially- and environmentally-conscious investments. Some companies are doing some really great work.
Johnson & Johnson has focused on reducing their impact on the planet for three decades. Their initiatives range from leveraging the power of the wind to providing safe water to communities around the world. They bought an energy supplier in the Texas Panhandle in order to reduce pollution while providing a renewable, economical alternative to electricity. Recently, they are helping to fight the latest coronavirus.
Netflix is serious about its employees, offering 52 weeks of paid parental leave, which can be taken at any time whether it is the first year of the child's life or another time that suits their needs. This compares to 18 weeks at other tech companies.
Pfizer sees CSR as a core part of how they do business. They raise awareness for non-infectious diseases as well as providing healthcare for women and children who otherwise would not have the care they need. For instance, they reduced the price of their Pevenar 13 vaccines (for pneumonia, ear and blood infections) for those in need and in situations such as refugees and emergency settings.
As previously mentioned, TOMS donates a pair of shoes for every pair sold which so far adds up to 60 million pairs to children in need. They use their profits to provide prescription glasses and medical treatments, provide safe drinking water and build businesses in developing countries to create jobs. They’re basically legendary.
Wondering about your morning fuel? Starbucks has pledged to hire 25,000 veterans by 2025 as well as look to hire more young people to help jumpstart their careers. The company also has joined with the UN Refugee Agency to scale up the company’s support and efforts to reach refugee candidates to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022.
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