Consumers want brands to make a difference.
In fact, Havas’ Meaningful Brands Report 2021 found that 73% of respondents think brands must act now for the good of society and the planet. In that same survey, 64% of respondents said they prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purposeful action, not just their profits.
When brands act for the good of society and the planet, they’re being socially responsible. In this post, we’ll discuss:
What is social responsibility?
For businesses, social responsibility is showing care and value for society and the planet in addition to, or equal to, how much care is shown for their profits and their bottom line.
How can brands be socially responsible?
Brands can be socially responsible by ensuring employees have a safe work environment and are paid a living wage, charitable giving to programs that give back to the community, championing diversity, equity, and inclusion, sustainable business practices, — the list goes on.
Early 2020 brought many businesses to a reckoning regarding social responsibility, as social justice issues were at the forefront of many conversations during the first few months of the year.
Consumers still want brands to be responsible — in fact, 45% of people think that brands need to do more to advocate for social justice issues. The social issues that consumers believe businesses should take a stance on are racial justice, climate change, income inequality, and affordable healthcare.
Let’s go over some examples of brands that exemplify social responsibility that you can take inspiration from.
15 Socially Responsible Brands
1. Back Market
Back Market combats the tons of waste produced by electronic devices by refurbishing used electronics and selling them to consumers. The business encourages consumers to trade in their used electronics for cash instead of throwing them away and also provides an eco-friendly alternative to those looking to buy.
2. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is famous for its at-home try-on program, where customers can try glasses frames at home before committing to a purchase.
Its Warby Parker Impact Foundation works with government agencies, nonprofits, and local community groups to increase access to vision care for adults and children underserved in this type of care. In addition, its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program donates one pair of glasses per pair bought and, to date, has distributed over 10 million glasses.
3. Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is famous for taking a stand on global issues like refugee rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate justice, voting rights — the list goes on.
To raise awareness for these issues, it partners with nonprofits to build support with its customers, and the Ben & Jerry’s foundation regularly gives funding to businesses in Vermont (its home state) and around the country that work to facilitate social change.
Oliberté founded the world’s first fair trade certified factory in Ethiopia. It has since transferred its operations to Canada but continues to show commitments to employee equity by giving employees a percentage of the earrings for every pair of shoes sold, where “sold” begins when a shoe has left the factory.
It is also part of the One Perfect for the Planet Program, where at least one percent of annual sales are contributed to environmental causes.
Patagonia is known for its environmentalist practices, like supporting grassroots activists through funding. Its Worn Wear program encourages customers to give their used Patagonia clothing back to the business to be refurbished and resold instead of throwing it away, and Patagonia Provisions makes and sells organic foods that ensure healthy soil, are cultivated under ethical employee conditions, and fair and humane treatment of animals.
EnrichHer is a finance technology platform that gives small women-owned businesses loans to help with business operations. It also offers training programs with one-on-one and peer support, tools to help owners access funding, and networking opportunities to help businesses find resources and tools to help them better their business.
IKEA is dedicated to environmentalism with its plans to use only sustainable materials and recycled or renewable plastic by 2030. The IKEA Foundation also works with NGOs to create employment and entrepreneurship programs and funds environmental ventures around the world, like renewable energy projects.
8. Cracked It
Based in the UK, Cracked It is a phone repair service that employs formerly incarcerated youth, a community often discriminated against and looked over when seeking employment. It teaches job-relevant and life skills and prepares youth for future employment opportunities to come down the line.
Allbirds, a footwear and apparel company, uses natural, renewable, and sustainable materials to create its products, demonstrating a commitment to environmentalism and sustainability.
Allbirds Flight Plan lays out the business’ sustainability commitments that culminate in cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2025 through investments in regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and responsible energy use. Allbirds ReRun is similar to Worn Wear, and used products are donated, refurbished, and resold to reduce waste.
Cora sells organic personal care products and, with every purchase, donates products and body literacy resources to communities often overlooked in related discussions. 75% of the donations it makes are to organizations that serve BIPOC communities and, to date, has donated 6,600,000 products and diverted 14,000 from landfills.
Black people in Black communities pay 70% more for car insurance than those in predominantly White upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Loop, an AI-powered car insurance company, recognizes the disparity and commits to making car insurance more equitable, available, and affordable for people of color, most significantly by only considering factors related to driving history.
12. Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full is a Louisiana-based business that collects glassware that it recycles and repurposes into sand and glass cullet. Its outputs help the environment, as the sand can be used for disaster relief, coastal restoration, and eco-construction, and glass cullet can be repurposed into new glassware.
Since its creation, it has diverted 2 million pounds of glass from NOLA landfills.
13. Culture Brands
Culture Brands is an agency with media platforms and consumer brands that engage directly with the African American community, helping people feel seen and engage with content related to their experiences. Because Of Them We Can is one of its platforms that shares content that amplifies Black voices and entrepreneurial successes.
14. Tony’s Chocolonely
Tony’s Chocolonely is a chocolate company committed to environmentalism and equitable and fair working conditions.
Tony’s Open Chain sourcing principles outline the business commitments, including paying a premium for cocoa beans to ensure farmers receive a living wage, and CLMRS, which identifies illegal child labor and improves the living conditions for farmers and their families.
It also helps its customers learn more about chocolate farming practices, as they can trace the entire lifecycle of the bean that made the chocolate bar they hold in their hands.
15. Accion International
Accion International’s mission is to build a financially inclusive world by providing economic opportunities to communities often overlooked and left out of financial conversations.
It provides financial support to low-income entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and women, in addition to educational resources, coaching, and business networks that can be helpful when it comes to building and growing a business. In 2021, Accion International was able to reach and impact 220M+ people.