In 2006, while on vacation in Argentina, Blake Mycoskie witnessed firsthand the hardships faced by kids growing up without shoes. An idea struck. Start a shoe company that would give a pair away for every one it sold- One for One. Mycoskie’s simple business model, One for One®, is now a global movement.
At this year’s Massachusetts Conference for Women, I had the chance to hear Mycoskie talk about his vision of using business to improve lives, bridging philanthropy and capitalism. Today, Mycoskie is the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS. The company has given over 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in need and recently expanded into eyewear, helping deliver eye care to more than 150,000 people.
Perhaps more than any other brand, TOMS embodies what it means to be a social-minded business. But the company isn’t alone. Many companies today have integrated sustainability, corporate citizenship, or economic empowerment into their business strategy. Within our industry examples abound.
State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), Calvert Investments, TIAA-CREF, and Pax World all incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria into their investing and decision making. Since 2008, Goldman Sachs has committed in excess of $1.6 billion to philanthropic initiatives. Over 500,000 teens have participated in Schwab’s Money Matters program that teaches basic money management skills. The program has awarded nearly 500,000 in college scholarships. In 2012, Wells Fargo invested $315.8 million in 19,500 nonprofits and schools nationwide. As part of our strategic initiatives at Boston Financial, we have targeted community impact efforts that include an active volunteer and charitable contribution policy. And the list of financial services companies that have embedded corporate social responsibility into their values goes on.
Findings from the 2012 State of Corporate Citizenship, conducted by the Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, found that important business objectives are more likely to be achieved by companies when they align corporate citizenship strategy with overall corporate strategy. When it came to reputation and corporate culture-related objectives, success was as much as nine times more likely for those who integrated than for those who did not.
Our industry, TOMS, as well as countless other companies, have demonstrated that philanthropy and sustainability can and should be ingrained in a company’s business philosophy. Today’s businesses and consumers are becoming more socially-minded. It’s the right thing, and it’s a good thing.