Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-enforced workplace initiative that ensures businesses utilize their resources for positive change in their communities and around the world. Consumers expect this accountability from brands they trust, with 63% of American consumers reporting that they look for companies to take the lead on social and environmental justice issues.
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In addition to doing good, corporate social responsibility can also improve a company’s bottom line by impacting everything from customer loyalty to employee recruitment. Eighty-seven percent of consumers would make a purchase based on a company’s advocacy and 90% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a company with shared values.
We’ve compiled a list of the world’s most socially responsible companies and the initiatives they’re adopting to illustrate the power of CSR.
Jump to the infographic to see how 10 companies are making the world — and their business — a better place, or keep reading for more information on 25 of the world’s most socially responsible companies and the initiatives they’re involved in.
10 of the World’s Most Socially Responsible Companies:
Many of the world’s top companies see the benefit of giving back. With great power comes great responsibility, and these companies work hard to make a positive impact around the globe.
1. The Walt Disney Company
This family-friendly company is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. They are committed to the environment, healthy living, and volunteerism through their corporate responsibility program.
One big way Disney gives back is through volunteerism. One year, they donated free tickets to one million people in exchange for a day of volunteer service. They also encourage their employees to get involved through the Disney VoluntEARS program. In addition, Disney helps fulfill more than 10,000 wishes for children battling life-threatening illnesses in partnership with organizations like Make-A-Wish every year.
In 1995, Disney launched The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support the efforts of local and global non-profits that protect wildlife and local ecosystems. Disney is also dedicated to reducing waste and emissions as well as improving water conversation.
Danish toy company LEGO knows that play is powerful. After all, play has generated over $37.9 billion in revenue for the company since its founding in 1932. LEGO is committed to providing children from all backgrounds access to play, which is why they donated over 520,000 LEGO sets in 2018. The LEGO Foundation also awarded $100 million to Sesame Workshop, which will help bring the power of play to millions of children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian crisis.
LEGO is also committed to improving the environment. In 2018, they started to use plant-based plastic polyethylene, made from sugar cane, to make LEGO trees. The LEGO factory in Denmark also installed 40,000 solar panels to harness solar energy and uses wind energy in their Denmark factories, offices, and stores.
3. Natura Cosmeticos
Natura is a Brazilian cosmetics company that is dedicated to developing a sustainable economy in the Amazon rainforest. Their wide range of products including cosmetics, hygiene, and beauty products is made of ingredients derived from Brazilian biodiversity. Natura works with local partners to harvest the ingredients and generate revenue for small communities near the Amazon rainforest.
Natura is the world’s largest certified B Corp company and was the first publicly traded company to ever receive this recognition. Natura is proud to support forest conservation, waste reduction, climate protection, and other environmental causes such as reducing waste with environmentally friendly packaging.
4. Novo Nordisk
This Danish pharmaceutical company ranks far above other companies in their industry in terms of corporate social responsibility. As a business dedicated to solving health problems around the world, Novo Nordisk is also committed to making the medicines available and affordable, especially life-saving insulin.
In addition to medical advocacy, they are also transitioning to a zero environmental impact business model. They have invested in a solar powered farm in North Carolina that will power their entire U.S. operations starting in early 2020. Novo Nordisk also has a partnership with Danish energy company, DONG energy, for an offshore wind farm.
Microsoft’s CSR is aimed at worldwide initiatives to empower people through education and access to technology, safeguard human rights, and to sustain the environment.
As a leading technology company, Microsoft aims its CSR to be forward-thinking, targeting the world of tomorrow. That’s why they’ve helped over 12 million youth in 54 countries, providing them with computer science learning experiences. They also spent 3 billion in 2018 alone at minority owned businesses. Microsoft has also donated 1.4 billion in software and services to nonprofits worldwide.
Former CEO and major stakeholder Bill Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a nonprofit dedicated to reducing inequity across the globe.
Google’s company culture and commitment to being an equal opportunity employer has given them high status for corporate social responsibility. Their workplace reputation is so prestigious that even a scandal such as a memo released in 2018 decrying their diversity initiatives had little effect on their standing.
Google is dedicated to equal opportunity advancement, offering an array of perks and opportunities for every employee. Google boasts a 0% pay difference between Googlers, is increasing recruitment for those who have served in the military, and now collects data from employees who self-identify as LGBTQ or as having a disability to improve their workplace experience.
In addition to Google’s commitment to their employees, they are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. There are even goats on Google’s campus in Mountain View to eat the grass in order to cut down on fertilizer use. Google also uses their technology for positive change. Two ways it does this is through satellite tracking and Google Maps: Google can track indigenous people and their lands to help prevent deforestation and they allow countries to use the map software to solve issues impacting their lands.
Dell is committed to “powering the possible” by preserving the environment, strengthening communities, promoting diversity and inclusion, and ensuring supply chain responsibility in the tech space. Dell has recovered over 2 billion pounds of used electronics and has used over 100 million pounds of sustainable materials in its products.
Dell is also committed to spreading STEM to communities in need across the world. Some of these initiatives include girl’s coding camps and solar-powered classrooms.
Through technology, Dell can help solve a number of problems. For example, the Dell Genomic Data Analysis Platform revolutionizes the medical industry by enabling doctors to analyze cancer patients data faster and deliver personalized treatments to critically ill children across the globe.
8. Ben & Jerry’s
Delicious ice cream flavors aren’t the only innovation happening at Ben & Jerry’s. This ice cream company, founded in 1978, is dedicated to making the world a better place by advocating for causes surrounding food, children, the environment, and inequality.
Ben & Jerry’s serves up Non-GMO ice cream and supports GMO labeling on food. They also advocate for their farmers, seeking out fair trade agreements and putting quality over profits in the dairy industry.
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of standing up for what’s right in the food industry: In 1989, they openly opposed using the Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone in cows because of its negative impact on family farming. Ben & Jerry’s has also helped raise funds and awareness for the family farm organization Farm Aid.
9. Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi’s prides itself on taking courageous stands to help fuel social movements. They are committed to helping solve the HIV/Aids epidemic, which was first discovered in the U.S. in San Francisco, where the company is headquartered. Since 1983, the Levi Strauss Foundation has donated more than 60 million in grants to HIV/Aids organizations across more than 40 countries.
Levi is also dedicated to supporting marriage equality. In 2007, they were the only company in California to file an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage with the California Supreme Court.
Starbucks has a reputation for CSR. Starbucks achieved 99% ethically sourced coffee, promotes green building throughout its store, and has created a global network of farmers to support fair trade practices.
Starbucks also gives back to the community through their hiring processes. They have hired 22,000 military members and spouses and have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans by 2025. In addition, Starbucks is also dedicated to hiring 10,000 refugees, going plastic straw-free in its stores, and encouraging environmental advocacy for employees and customers alike.
15 More Companies + Their Humanitarian Efforts
Companies big and small can help improve the lives of people around the world. Here are 15 more companies dedicated to corporate social responsibility, and the initiatives they’ve adopted to make the world better.
- Intel is dedicated to water conservation and has saved over 64 billion gallons of water and returned or restored 80% of their water use.
- In 2006, Apple reached equal pay across the company and 50% of its new hires in 2018 were from underrepresented groups in tech.
- The Bosch Power Tools Division helped students develop 3D printing technology to create and donate 75 prosthetic hands to the Helping Hands Project.
- Committed to contributing progress to mobility, Michelin partnered with Vans to develop a sneaker #StreetTread that taught kids about tire treads and safety.
- Since 2009, Canon has helped plant over 410,000 trees in support of The Arbor Day Foundation’s tree planting initiatives.
- Estee Lauder has an internal committee called “The Responsible Sourcing Working Group” to ensure that their partners’ ingredients are ethical and sustainable.
- 1.87 million students gained digital and entrepreneurial skills through the Cisco Networking Academy.
- Sony leads with ethical technology development. They developed a surgical microscope with 4K 3D imaging and made deep-learning programs available for free to the public.
- Rolls-Royce is committed to the workforce of the future. They invest in young talent with their 5% Club, committing that 5% of their UK workforce is young.
- With help from the WIldlife Habitat Council, Bridgestone has 10 certified national wildlife sites at their manufacturing facilities.
- Over 60 million shoes have been donated on behalf of TOMS, a company founded on the idea that children all around the world deserve access to health and education.
- Good Year is dedicated to making tires of the future. They provided smart tires for new self-driving shuttles and studied tire molecules in space with the International Space Station.
- Toyota is expanding beyond automobiles by investing in affluent societies where people can connect with advanced robotics.
- Started in 2019, every new 3M product released is supported by a Sustainability Value Commitment, meaning each product will help impact the greater good.
- Aveda was the first beauty company to use post-consumer recycled materials in their packaging.
The Benefits of Social Responsibility
There are many benefits to corporate social responsibility. Most importantly, social responsibility makes the world better. It encourages companies to use their resources to invest in their communities and the world.
Social responsibility can also improve your brand’s reputation and therefore, increase your profit margins. Eighty-seven percent of consumers say that they would make a purchase based on a company’s social advocacy efforts and 78% say they would spend extra in order to do so.
CSR Programs Your Small Business Can Adopt Today
As a small business owner, connecting your brand to your local community is important for long term success. While your business may not have millions to donate to charitable causes, there are plenty of socially responsible initiatives you can implement today.
Almost two-thirds of mid-sized companies focus their efforts within their home state. Once you’ve decided where you want to focus your energy, it’s time to choose a mission. Popular CSR causes include: education, environment, economic development, youth services, disaster relief, and arts and culture.
Consider hosting an employee volunteer day where your employees can come learn about the cause and how your efforts will make a difference. Whether you decide to sort clothes or food at a local donation center, host a collection drive for people in need, or hold a fundraiser to collect monetary funds, your business can start making a difference in your community today.
Adopting a corporate social responsibility program for your company can help you retain top talent, improve customer loyalty, attract investors, and weather a PR crisis. Check out our infographic below to discover how top companies are utilizing their programs to improve their brands and bottom line.