Socially responsible companies are concerned about more than the bottom line. They also care about the environment, ethical business practices and human rights issues.
Many companies have emphasized corporate social responsibility (CSR) in recent years, not solely out of benevolence, but also because it attracts customers, investors and employees. A 2017 study found that 78 percent of consumers want companies to take a stand on social issues, and 87 percent will buy products from a company that advocates for an issue they care about.
Socially Responsible Companies
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Warby Parker
Socially responsible companies take many forms. They might donate to nonprofits, reduce their carbon emissions, use eco-friendly materials, promote diversity or speak up on human rights issues.
Below, we take a closer look at some of the more notable socially responsible companies and their visions to make the world a better place.
Socially Responsible Companies to Know
Bombas, a certified B Corp, direct-to-consumer socks brand, gives back to those in need by donating one pair of socks for every pair purchased. As of 2023, the company has donated more than 100 million items. Bombas also uses recycled and organic cotton in its socks.
Cisco has donated $494 million in cash and in-kind contributions to community programs, including its career training program. The company has also committed to investing $150 million for technology education and technology modernization at historically Black colleges and universities, and it has provided technology equipment and donations to Ukraine, too. Cisco plans to reach net zero carbon emissions across its value chain by 2040, and renewable energy is used to power 89 percent of its operations.
UL Solutions is a safety science company — you may know the name from the UL Listing, a quality control seal that certifies a product has been rigorously safety tested for residential or industrial use. UL’s social responsibility initiatives include a dedicated DEI staff and partnerships with local, regional and global charities like Habitat for Humanity and Watts of Love.
Allbirds, a direct-to-consumer shoe and apparel company, uses natural materials like wool instead of synthetic materials. A certified B Corp, it pledged in 2021 to cut its carbon footprint in half by the end of 2025 and is more than halfway to meeting that goal (it hopes that gets to near zero by 2030).
Warby Parker has been selling prescription glasses and sunglasses online since 2010. A certified B Corp, the company donates a pair of glasses or sunglasses for every pair sold. The company also provides free vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to school children through its Pupils Project, which distributed more than 50,000 pairs of glasses in 2022 alone.
HP reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 59 percent compared to 2015 levels, and it plans to reach net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040. HP expects to transition entirely to renewable energy by 2025. More than 110 million ocean-bound plastic bottles have been retrieved and reused in HP’s ink cartridges. The company also aims to accelerate digital equity through educational programs and partnerships.
Intel derives 93 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and it aims to reach 100 percent by 2030. The company expects to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Intel spent $2.2 billion with diverse suppliers in 2022, reaching its goal to spend $2 billion annually with diverse suppliers by 2030.
Qualcomm, which manufactures semiconductors and wireless technology, has pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and reduce power consumption in its flagship Snapdragon products by 10 percent every year. The company has also educated 1.5 million people with its technology education programs and introduced wireless technology to 25 million people in underserved communities around the world.
Salesforce announced in 2021 that it had reached net zero carbon emissions across its value chain and that it purchases enough renewable energy to match its electricity usage. The company has invested $100 million in public education in Oakland and San Francisco and $165 million in schools and education nonprofits around the world. The company has also committed to donate $200 million to racial justice causes, spend $100 million with Black-owned businesses, and double its Black leadership in the U.S.
Stitch Fix, an online clothing retailer that makes personalized outfit recommendations, is more than halfway to meeting its goal of using environmentally preferred materials in its private label products by 2025. The company also takes measures to ensure fair working conditions at factories for its private label brands and its vendors. Stitch Fix also makes an effort to promote diversity among its vendors and runs a grant and mentorship program for entrepreneurs of color.
Microsoft has pledged to go beyond carbon neutral and become “carbon negative” by 2030. The company also aims to replenish more water than it uses and become zero waste by 2030. It also advocates for human rights, teaches in-demand digital skills and provides rural communities with affordable broadband access.
Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and is now working to transition to carbon-free energy sources by 2030. Since 2014, Google has invested more than $90 million to achieve equity in computer science and higher education, more than $400 million to create economic opportunities for communities of color and more than $45 million to support racial justice organizations.
Outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia has long donated 1 percent of its sales to environmental causes, but founder Yvon Chouinard recently took the company’s corporate citizenship to new heights in 2022 when he transferred ownership of the company to a trust and a nonprofit committed to tackling climate change. Patagonia, a certified B Corp, also invests in regenerative organic farming practices, recycled materials and providing a living wage to apparel factory workers.
Ben & Jerry’s has been supporting progressive causes for decades. The company’s website states that it “strives to be a social justice company that creates ice cream” by partnering with Black-owned suppliers, creating renewable energy from its waste and taking a stand on social issues. The company, owned by Unilever, became the first wholly owned subsidiary to gain B Corp certification in 2012. By 2025, the company aims to be completely powered by renewable energy and reduce its greenhouse gas intensity by 40 percent.
Shoe brand Toms started in 2006 with a promise to donate one pair of shoes for every pair sold. After reaching 100 million shoe donations in 2020, Toms discontinued its shoe donation program and started donating one-third of its profits to grassroots organizations. A certified B Corp, Toms also aims to use 100 percent sustainable cotton in its products by 2025.
Athletic apparel brand Adidas strives to make its operations carbon neutral by 2025, and by 2050, it plans to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire value chain. The company also aims to use environmentally preferred materials in 90 percent of its products by 2025. By 2024, the company plans to phase out polyester materials in favor of recycled polyester.
All Good is a certified B Corp that creates organic lotions, sunscreens, deodorants and other body care products. The company’s sunscreen is made of mineral-based ingredients that are not harmful to coral reefs. All Good is a certified climate neutral company, and it donates 1 percent of its sales to environmental organizations.
Dr. Bronner’s, which manufactures soap with organic, vegan and fair trade products, has been preaching peace and unity for decades on its distinctive product labels. The Certified B Corp also makes a positive difference in the world by packaging its soap in recycled plastic bottles, providing free healthcare to employees and ensuring its lowest-paid employees earn no less than one-fifth the wage of the highest-paid employee.
Gotham Greens grows leafy greens and herbs in hydroponic greenhouses in urban areas. A certified B Corp, the company has pledged to reduce its plastic packaging by 40 percent by 2024. It also aims to reduce its electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by the end of 2024.
Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer health products, gets more than half of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The company aims to be completely powered by renewable energy sources by 2025 and expects its operations to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Lemonade is a digital insurance company that has shaken up the industry’s business model. After covering the cost of claims and operational expenses, Lemonade distributes any leftover money from your insurance premium to the nonprofit of your choice. The company said it has donated more than $6 million as of 2023. Lemonade is also a Public Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp.
Levi’s has pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The company estimates its Water<Less manufacturing process has saved nearly 13 billion liters of water between 2011 and 2020. Levi’s also created a worker well-being program in 2011 to provide health education, family welfare programs and financial empowerment for its apparel workers. The company plans to roll out the program to every factory in its supplier network by 2025.
Nike budgets 2 percent of its previous year’s income for community investment, and it has donated nearly $70 million out of a planned $125 million to organizations working to address racial inequality, according to its latest impact report. About 93 percent of the electricity for Nike’s owned-and-operated facilities comes from renewable sources, and the company plans to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. The company also diverts 99 percent of all shoe manufacturing waste from landfills, and it converts its waste into new products, playgrounds, running tracks and courts.