Welcome to Thomas Insights – every day we post the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date with what’s happening in the industry. Sign up here to receive the best stories of the day straight to your inbox.
The priorities of consumers and investors are changing. Almost half of all Americans think it is very important for businesses to “make the world a better place”. In addition, the younger the potential investor, the more likely they are to research the societal and environmental impact of a business before making an investment decision.
For these reasons, corporate social responsibility (CSR) – which is making sure that your business improves society rather than degrades it – has become an increasingly popular feature of business models around the world. CSR builds brand reputation, and a more positive public perception leads to more sales, more investments, more referrals, better employee morale, and more people lining up to work for a company.
There are many different ways to approach CSR: from supporting small businesses to investing in green technologies of social innovation, to implementing employee volunteering programs and aligning your values with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Let’s take a look at some of the most innovative examples from some of the world’s biggest companies.
Lego: Access to play for children in need
Lego fully believes in the power of play. In the United States, a “Prescription for Play” program was launched in 2020, which aims to send Lego Duplo boxes to one million parents by the end of the year for them. encourage them to spend time playing with their children.
Internationally, Lego partners with organizations such as Unicef. In 200 disadvantaged rural Chinese communities, for example, the company is investing $ 2.5 million in resources to support early childhood development.
Under pressure from Greenpeace, Lego ended a decades-old partnership with the oil company Shell in 2014 and has since also stepped up its environmental CSR.
It plans to phase out all single-use plastic in its boxes by 2025. And through its introductory coding programs, Lego challenges kids to design and build robots that collect pollution from the environment. ‘water – or get involved in other projects related to recycling, water or air pollution, or wildlife conservation. Challenges include using Lego bricks to build a haven for seahorses or a wildlife sanctuary for koalas.
Microsoft: pledges to eliminate all the carbon it has ever emitted
Not only has Microsoft pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, the tech multinational has also pledged, by 2050, to phase out all the carbon it has ever emitted since its inception in 1975. The The company will achieve this through several means, including investing in reforestation and deploying $ 1 billion in a new Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and elimination technologies.
Microsoft has also partnered with the Roman Catholic Church in an effort to ensure that ethics are at the forefront when it comes to developing new artificial intelligence (AI).
Starbucks: hiring veterans and refugees
Whether they’re in the coffee plantations of Costa Rica or downtown Dallas or Brooklyn, Starbucks invests in communities. To ease the often difficult transition to civilian life, the company pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2025 and achieved that goal six years earlier. It also makes a point of hiring refugees, young people from disadvantaged communities and ex-prisoners, while investing heavily in employee health and education programs.
In 2015, the company announced that 99% of its coffee supply chain is ethically sourced, the largest coffee retailer to reach such a milestone. Starbucks has opened a network of support centers around the world, where tools, information and training on improving coffee productivity and quality are shared between experts and farmers.
Starbucks also offers a host of environmental programs and projects, including planting trees, rescuing and donating unsold food, developing recycled cups, disposing of single-use straws, helping farms to adapting to the threats of global warming and investing in renewable energies.
Levi Strauss: inventing the recycled denim hanger
From reducing the amount of water he uses to produce a pair of jeans to educating customers on how to extend the life of the clothes they buy, Levi Strauss is committed to improving the planet. and to make up for some of the quickest fashion industry’s worst vices. . The iconic American clothing brand even pioneered a recycled denim hanger.
Levi is also proud of his track record in promoting equality. In 1960, it fought against entrenched discriminatory systems in Blackstone, Va. To open a non-segregated sewing factory, and in 1991, it introduced new terms of agreement into its global supply chain to ensure deployment. various programs aimed at improving the lives of workers. In 2019, it received the highest rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for its workplace protections, including healthcare benefits that include transgender people.
Salesforce: Tackling Global Issues Alongside the UN
Salesforce thinks big when it comes to CSR: by checking things off the world’s to-do list for people and planet. It chose eight of the UN SDGs – including gender inequality, decent work and economic growth, quality education and life on earth, which are most relevant to its operations, and it uses to frame its business strategy. Through this alignment with the SDGs, the US software company has, for example, donated more than $ 120 million to public education and freed up more than 800,000 hours that employees can devote to volunteering.
Salesforce, which offers a range of sales, analytics, and other business services to customers, has also created a platform to help other employers improve their CSR. It covers everything from how to engage employees to give back to tracking your company’s philanthropic efforts.
Ben & Jerry’s: flavors that raise awareness
Ben & Jerry’s were the first ice cream company in the world to source Fairtrade certified ingredients – and they are still committed to fairness, recently pledging to pay more to cocoa farmers in West Africa ( on average, they earn less than half a living wage). The company has long been committed to social and environmental justice: its founders coined the term “benevolent capitalism” in the 1980s. In 2019, the organization unveiled a special edition flavor: Justice Remix’d. This flavor was intended to raise awareness of systemic racism and the need for criminal justice reform.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was founded in 1985 alongside the company’s commitment to use 7.5% of pre-tax profits for philanthropy. The organization empowers and involves employees in its grantmaking process, and invests in programs to improve the ice cream maker’s home state, Vermont, as well as social justice movements in the nationwide.
The company is also committed to transparency. From farm to factory to final destination, the ice cream making process is fully disclosed on its website.
Disney: Free Theme Park Tickets in Exchange for Volunteerism
As part of a program that has been running for over 10 years in various iterations, Disney is offering free admission to a Disney park for schools, nonprofits, and individuals who spend a day volunteering. with an organization of their choice. The company has also confirmed that it will power 40% of its Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, using newly installed solar panels over the next two years.
Disney is also aligning its strategies with the SDGs and promoting inclusion and environmental education through its films and TV shows. Proceeds from three Disney-produced nature films have planted three million trees in Brazil, protected thousands of acres of coral reefs in the Bahamas and the savannah in Africa. The world’s largest media and entertainment conglomerate established the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund in 1995 and has since supported projects in more than 110 countries.
Image Credit: Disney