‘Tis the Season for Corporate Social Responsibility

As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, brands are increasingly making social responsibility a core component of their business strategies. It’s easy to see why: According to a 2018 Edelman report, almost two-thirds of consumers describe themselves as “belief-driven buyers,” which means they “choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.” This proportion has jumped up from 50 percent last year.

As more and more consumers expect the brands they support to reflect and champion their values, let’s take a look at how companies make are making social responsibility integral to the way they do business.

Good Money is a new peer-to-peer digital banking platform that automatically gives customers a share of the company’s profits when they open an account. Customers receive equity with every purchase they make, as well as when they refer friends, set up direct deposit, or install the Good Money app. This democratization of ownership is consistent with the trend toward democratization elsewhere (in the media, for instance), and it makes sense as consumers demand more engagement with brands and reject traditional top-down interactions. The fact that Good Money has pledged to donate 50 percent of its profits to charity doesn’t hurt, either.

The motto of All Square, a craft grilled cheese restaurant in Minneapolis, tells you pretty much everything you need to know: “Don’t judge. Just eat.” This is because the folks who cook the food, serve the customers, and keep the restaurant running all have criminal records. On Mondays, the restaurant closes and the All Square Institute opens. The institute gives employees an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, law, and other fields that will help them find success in their careers. Now that they’re “all square” with society after serving their time, this program gives them a chance to flourish.

Since its founding, Patagonia has been synonymous with corporate responsibility – from its efforts to ensure that suppliers adhere to a consistent set of standards for safe and healthy workplace conditions to its campaign to protect the safety and rights of migrant workers to annual reports about the company’s performance on a range of sustainability measures. Patagonia has also donated $89 million to environmental service organizations since 1985, and it frequently uses social media to spread the word about initiatives such as its Action Works program.

Salesforce points out that “corporate giving is being democratized like many other aspects of our lives,” which is why the company employs a “personal social responsibility” model of charitable giving. This means Salesforce has donation matching programs that allow employees to support the causes of their choice, as well as volunteer opportunities that are developed with input from stakeholders within the company. Meanwhile, companies like Amazon are working to make charitable giving simpler and more accessible for consumers. With AmazonSmile, customers select a nonprofit when they start shopping and 0.5 percent of every purchase they make will be donated to it.

Consumers and employees are eager to give, and we hope these socially responsible companies and initiatives have given you a few more ideas about how to help them do so.

And don’t forget, even if your company doesn’t have a streamlined approach to social good, each person can do their individual part.