We all want to shop ethically, but how do we tell the brands that are genuinely dedicated to social responsibility from the brands that are just waving the latest business buzzword around?
Ethically-minded consumers generally have to do some research to discover which products and brands are the most aligned with their values. Apps like the Good Guide, which has rated over 75,000 popular products based on their environmental, health and social responsibility credentials, are a big help. There is also various corporate social responsibility (CSR) indices that rank brands on their efforts. The Business in the Community CR Index is a good place to start.
A little bit of groundwork can go a long way to helping you make more informed consumer choices – and do your bit for the world at the same time. To get you started, here are five brands taking corporate responsibility seriously:
Ben & Jerry’s
As if you needed another excuse to eat ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s have a stellar reputation for social responsibility. From animal welfare for their dairy cows to sourcing only Fair Trade ingredients for their products, this planet-friendly ice cream company take their impact seriously.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation donates funds to community initiatives, awarding over $1.8 million a year. They’re also devoted advocates for issues they care about including equal marriage, climate justice, and peace-building.
Luxury online retailer YOOX is showing how a well-chosen collaboration between brands can do some serious social good. Their partnership with Australian fashion brand We Are Handsome has created the YOOX Loves the Reef project, designed to raise funds to support the conservation work of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Proceeds from sales of their beautiful ocean-inspired swimwear line will directly benefit one of the world’s most vital ecosystems. By pooling their skills and resourcing, the two brands have proved that two heads really are better than one.
If you’re looking for shoes with soul, check out the TOMS brand. This social enterprise was started up specifically to help the world in a financially sustainable way. Their One for One campaign helps provide shoes (along with safe water, prescription glasses, and the staff and equipment needed for women to safely give birth) to people in need around the world.
Working with over 100 giving partners, they donate a portion of every single sale towards improving people’s lives. They also focus on their environmental impact. For example, all TOMS shoe boxes are made with 80% recycled post-consumer waste.
The search engine giant was one of the first businesses to really embrace corporate social responsibility. Their impressive social responsibility programme includes a huge range of initiatives tackling everything from the environment to empowering women.
Not only have they been carbon neutral since 2007, they now power their entire operations through renewable energy and have invested over $1 billion in green energy projects. Their pioneering GoogleServe programme supports their employees to volunteer in their local communities and matches all charitable giving from their staff. That adds up to over $50 million and nearly 50,000 hours so far!
The Swedish furniture design brand set up the IKEA Foundation to achieve their mission of creating “a better everyday life for as many people as possible around the world.”
Recent work of the foundation includes a huge €40 million grant to the We Mean Business Coalition to support its work in encouraging businesses to source 100% renewable power and tackle climate change. They also donated €1 million to Save the Children’s work helping the Rohingya child refugees as part of their Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign. Donations come from proceeds of sales, as well as by involving customers and employees in fund-raising.