9 Socially Responsible Companies to Applaud
At Classy, we believe that a company will find its greatest success by marrying purpose and profit. As a Certified B Corporation, we strive to hold ourselves to the highest standard of social and environmental performance for business, motivate other companies to do the same, and celebrate those who are working to create positive social change.
Social responsibility, beyond driving a social movement and building a more inclusive and sustainable economy, also benefits companies in their recruiting and consumer marketing efforts. The 2019 Aflac Corporate Social Responsibility Survey found that 77% of consumers surveyed are “motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world better,” and 49% of Americans say it is more important for a company to “make the world a better place” than “make money for its shareholders.” From B Corps to companies with robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, for-profit organizations are increasingly motivated to align with relevant causes and social good programs.
It’s important to recognize socially responsible companies, both to encourage their work and to show other organizations how they can successfully incorporate social good into their mission. Use these nine companies as inspiration to strive for a higher standard and partner with companies who care.
Really, claiming the number one spot? We know how it looks, but here at Classy we hold ourselves to the highest standard and feel grateful for the work we’ve been able to accomplish since our start in 2011. We support nonprofits and the social sector at large with our online fundraising tools to accelerate social impact around the world. Partnering with over 6,000 nonprofit organizations, Classy has powered tens of millions of donations from over 190 countries, raising over $2 billion in the process.
As a Certified B Corporation, we prioritize our stakeholder promise to empower nonprofits by offering an exceptional giving experience without sacrificing an inclusive work environment or a sustainable future in the process. This philosophy has led to programs like the Classy Awards, now the largest impact awards program in the country, and ClassyGives, an innovative volunteering program for our team and clients.
We continually strive to deliver unquestionable value to all customers and their supporters, in addition to our team, investors, and community. To ensure our operations and impact are sustainable, responsible, and environmentally conscious, we have formalized the following company-wide environmental commitments:
- Achieve carbon neutrality
- Achieve supply chain sustainability
- Enable a culture of environmentally conscious stakeholders
To help further advance the social sector, we also offer an immersive experience called the Collaborative, which is our annual nonprofit conference designed exclusively to help nonprofit organizations gain insights, strategies, and inspiration to elevate their impact.
2. Dr. Bronner’s
Certified as a B Corporation since 2015, Dr. Bronner’s holds its manufacturing standards to the highest level. Now the top-selling brand of organic and fair trade body care in the U.S., this family-owned and run company has risen through the ranks by making socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality, while dedicating its profits to building, promoting, and advancing positive social change.
Dr. Bronner’s is the leading pioneer of USDA certified organic personal care products, guiding the social responsibility efforts within their industry. Their exemplary societal and environmental impact has landed them in the top 10% of Certified Corps across all impact areas, proving that their strategy can lead the way for other companies wanting to join the movement.
To ensure fair and just treatment of farmers and workers across the world, Dr. Bronner’s continues to offer education initiatives and create fair trade projects to support their mission. Along with their own implementation of regenerative organic agriculture, they also educate their farming partners in the implementation of carbon-sequestering farming practices.
In addition, all of their products are free from synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, synthetic foaming agents or thickeners, are packaged in 100% recyclable materials, and never tested on animals. Each product is 100% biodegradable, and 33% of all profits go to social and ecological projects.
In 2007, Google became the first major company to reach carbon neutrality. Ten years later, the company also achieved its 100% renewable energy target, and is now the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser on the planet.
As if that wasn’t enough to earn a spot at the top of the corporate social responsibility totem pole, the company is now aiming to operate solely on carbon-free energy by 2030. Their goal is to not only pursue new carbon-free technologies, but to also demonstrate that a fully decarbonized future is possible for everyone.
From facilitating green commuting, to employee gift matching, to paid time off for volunteering, Google inspects nearly every part of their business with a social impact lens.
4. Ben & Jerry’s
Ice cream tastes just a little sweeter when you know the makers work to promote safe, socially responsible ingredients and business practices. Since the 1980s, Ben & Jerry’s has supported a number of important causes, many of which are directly tied to the business of making ice cream.
In 1989, they first opposed Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone use in cows, in part due to “its adverse economic impact on family farming.” They have also used their packaging to support the family farm organization, Farm Aid. The company even created the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which encourages their employees to give back to their communities and offers grants for social justice programs.
In addition, their commitment to fairtrade motivated the company to become the first ice cream maker in the world to use Fairtrade Certified ingredients. This decision aligns with their values to use environmentally friendly farming practices, implement fair labor standards, and invest in their community. Ben & Jerry’s impact is then further amplified by the Fairtrade social premium, an additional amount of money paid on top of the fair price that farmers receive.
The LEGO Group is one of the most notable examples of how social responsibility can be an incredible asset to a well-known brand. Their dedication to social impact is somewhat recent (a 2014 Greenpeace video put pressure on the toymaker to end their 50-year partnership with Shell Global due to their plans to drill in the Arctic), but the extent of their commitment has made the Danish company a shining example of the far-reaching impact of CSR.
In September of 2020, the LEGO Group announced that they were set to invest $400 million over the next three years to support their social responsibility and sustainability efforts. With the long-term goal to be carbon neutral by 2022 and make all packaging sustainable by the end of 2025, they are going to start by phasing out single use plastic bags and installing additional solar panels on all factories.
The company’s Sustainable Materials Programme will continue to advance as well, with a focus on expanding its use of bio-bricks. Research into new, more sustainable plastics from renewable and recycled sources is a priority, in addition to partnering with other leaders in the industry to find durable, high-quality materials that keep the environment front of mind.
By 2022, the LEGO Group is also aiming to reach eight million children around the world annually with learning through play. In collaboration with the LEGO Foundation, UNICEF, Save the Children, and local partners, the team is working to scale up programs that give children the opportunity to develop life-long skills.
6. Levi Strauss
Are your jeans contributing to water scarcity? Most of us probably don’t think about this when shopping, but it’s an important question for Levi Strauss. In recent years, the company has committed to reducing the amount of water used in production of their jeans, a product they have been making since 1873.
The company created the first product tag in 2009, Care Tag for Our Planet, which offers tips on how to best preserve your clothing and where to donate them once you’re done with them. Levi Strauss works alongside Cotton Inc.’s Blue Jeans Go Green to collect used clothing, and also sells pre-owned or restored vintage clothing items to reduce their carbon footprint.
To further elevate their efforts, all owned-and-operated U.S. and Canadian retail locations, along with all U.S. wholesale locations, now use 100% post-consumer waste stock for their print materials. All new mannequins are made from 100% recycled base stock, and the company is currently working on a recycled denim coat hanger.
7. Warby Parker
For people in the developed world, the need for a new pair of glasses is a chance to accessorize, but it can also be a chore to find the right ones. Warby Parker helps simplify the task by sending customers five different frames of their choice to try on before making a decision. But knowing that for many people a functional pair of glasses can be life-changing, the B Corp also works to provide glasses for those in need.
Through their Buy-A-Pair, Give-A-Pair program, Warby Parker makes a monthly donation to their nonprofit partners, such as VisionSpring, to bring prescription eyewear to people in developing countries. The company has distributed more than eight million pairs of glasses since its start in 2010. As of April 1, 2020, a portion of purchases will additionally go toward personal protective equipment and preventative health supplies for healthcare workers and communities in need.
Microsoft changed the way the world works, studies, and plays with their computers and software. But their ambitions go far beyond the screen. The company, founded by Bill Gates who now devotes his time to philanthropy, began its giving program in 1983 when the fledgling company raised $17,000 for charity. As their CSR web page explains, Microsoft’s giving program has not only given time (employees in the U.S. volunteered more than 750,000 hours for nonprofits in 2020 alone), but also cash. In fiscal year 2020, the program raised over $221 million for nonprofits.
The software giant also created Microsoft Philanthropies, a social good initiative that works with nonprofits, governments, and businesses to create “a future where every person has the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to achieve more.” Initiatives cover everything from providing computer education, offering grants to nonprofits, and forming partnerships with organizations around the world.
As the world’s only Certified B Corporation insurance company, Lemonade serves to rebuild insurance as a social good. To support their mission, the team launched the Lemonade Giveback.
When you purchase a Lemonade policy, you’re asked to additionally select a nonprofit you care about. Once a year, Lemonade tallies up the unclaimed money left from your renters insurance premium and donates it to the nonprofit of your choice. In 2020, they gave over $1.1 million to charities including ACLU, March For Our Lives, and The Trevor Project.
More and more companies are not only adopting causes and social good initiatives, but also building them into the framework of their businesses. These organizations show how far-reaching and varied corporate social responsibility programs can be.
Any business can prioritize social impact, whether it’s donating your product to those in need, fundraising for a worthy cause, or starting your own foundation. Along with the good it does for your community, it also benefits your brand and attracts customers and talented employees.
Perhaps the simplest way to take a philanthropic step is to sponsor a local nonprofit organization. Corporate sponsorships between nonprofits and for-profit businesses can take many forms, so download The Nonprofit’s Guide to Pitching to Corporate Sponsors to learn where to get started.
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