Giving Back to the Community: 9 Companies That Are Making a Difference

How Etsy, Patagonia, Greyston Bakery and Other Companies Have Adopted Best Practices for the World

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In the B Corp Handbook (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2014), author and business leader Ryan Honeyman outlines the key areas in which companies can use business as a force for good. Incorporating real-world examples, questions from the B Impact Assessment and interviews with business leaders, the Handbook is an essential tool for any changemaker looking to do good business by affecting positive change in the world.

The following examples of companies giving back to the community have been excerpted from the B Corp Handbook.

Mindful companies focus on more than just profits: from environmental sustainability to charitable giving to corporate transparency. When businesses focus on giving back to the community, they improve the world around them and, as a fringe benefit, have an easier time forming a loyal customer base. The following companies have prioritized their communities as part of their missions, sometimes with big results.

Greyston Bakery

Greyston Bakery, a Certified B Corporation that is best known for baking the brownies in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, is located in the impoverished community of Southwest Yonkers, New York.

Greyston’s open hiring policy offers employment opportunities to anyone, regardless of educational attainment, work history, or previous incarceration, homelessness, or drug use. Anyone that comes to the front door of the bakery is given the chance to work, no questions asked. Greyston provides its workers with resources, personal development tools, and professional training, to give them the greatest chance of success in their new position.

Cascade Engineering

Cascade Engineering’s Welfare to Career program aims to help people find fulfilling and long-term employment. Cascade’s program, which has an average retention rate of 97 percent, is based on two key principles: partnering with the State of Michigan to offer on-site support to Welfare to Career participants, and educating key company leaders about the principles contained in the book A Framework for Understanding Poverty.

The success of the Welfare to Career program has benefitted individual workers, the local community, and Cascade Engineering’s bottom line. A Stanford Business School case study estimates that Cascade’s savings over a five-year period totaled $502,000, a result of lower contracting costs, wage subsidies, and tax credits. The program also provides $900,000 in savings to the State of Michigan, which has to pay less into welfare programs and sees increased tax receipts.

Home Care Associates

A great example of diversity from the B Corp community is Home Care Associates, a company that provides in-home care to clients in the Philadelphia area. Home Care Associates is 95 percent owned by women, is led by women, and specifically targets for hiring and promotion women from ethnic minority and/or low-income communities.

Luscious Garage

Luscious Garage, a B Corp auto repair shop that specializes in hybrids, has been giving back to the community by donating its shop space for the monthly meeting of the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association. The GGEVA is a high-tech group of transportation activists who work with vehicle manufacturers, government agencies, nonprofits, and individuals to promote electric vehicles and the expansion of an electric charging infrastructure.

Etsy

Etsy’s core competency is its team of talented software developers and engineers. Etsy recognizes that there is a growing need for more talented programmers, particularly women, to meet the demands of the future. As a result, Etsy supports the Hacker School, a three-month, full-time program in New York that teaches people how to become better programmers. In 2012 Etsy provided ten Hacker Grants of $5,000 each—a total of $50,000—to women who wanted to join but needed financial support to do so. Etsy’s goal is to encourage more women to join engineering at Etsy and across the industry.

Give Something Back Office Supplies

Give Something Back Office Supplies donates the majority of its profits to local charities every year. To identify which charities to support, Give Something Back asks its customers, community members, and employees to vote in an annual ballot. Over the past twenty-three years, Give Something Back has donated more than $5 million to nonprofits in the local communities that it serves.

Preserve

Preserve purchases 100 percent recycled plastic to use in its cups, bowls, toothbrushes, and other products. This helps reduce the chemical-, energy-, and water-intensive steps of extracting and refining virgin plastic and helps create a more viable market by stimulating demand for post-consumer recycled materials.

Patagonia

In 2012 Patagonia released the Footprint Chronicles, an online tool to help its stakeholders learn more about the company’s global operations and suppliers. Patagonia says that its goal is to use supply chain transparency to help it reduce its adverse social and environmental impacts—on an industrial scale.

Visitors to the Footprint Chronicles can view a global, interactive map of Patagonia’s textile mills and factories, including information about how long the mill or factory has worked with Patagonia, the number and gender ratio of its workers, the languages spoken, and what items are produced within the facility.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is helping its supply chain partners take the B Impact Assessment. This will enable Ben & Jerry’s to view the performance of individual suppliers and the aggregate social and environmental impact of its entire supply chain. In the future this data will be used to inform the company’s procurement and sourcing decisions.

The content on these three examples of corporate responsibility in business was originally published in the B Corp Handbook (Copyright 2014, Ryan Honeyman. Reproduced by Permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.).

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