Businesses That Help Improve the World
In recent years, consumers have begun to weigh the social impact of different businesses when deciding where they want to shop. One survey earlier this year from three consulting firms found that the majority of consumers (55%) would rather purchase a product from a socially responsible company than buy the same product from a company that is not socially responsible.
Of course, it can be difficult to determine which companies truly give back to society, so we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most socially responsible companies currently doing business based on three criteria: charitable donations, environmentally friendly policies and the fairness of their hiring practices.
The first three businesses on this list are based on data we used from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which tracks annual donations from more than 150 major corporations. We ranked these businesses based on the total amount donated in 2009 as a percentage of their yearly profits.
The next three businesses on the list are based on data from DiversityInc, a business publication that surveyed more than 400 companies to determine the 50 most diverse based on the number of different minorities who are represented on staff, as well as other criteria like the number of women in executive positions.
The final third of the list is devoted to those companies who have demonstrated most improvement in their green practices, as ranked by ClimateCounts.org, a nonprofit group that scores dozens of major businesses based on their initiatives to be more eco-friendly. We’ve also added one wild card to the list who may not rank at the top of each list, but demonstrates a healthy combination of each of these factors.
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3rd Most Charitable: Abbott Laboratories
Abbott Laboratories may not be a household name, but it deserves some recognition. This global health care research company gave $58 million to charity in 2009, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That may not sound like a lot when you consider Wal-Mart gave nearly $300 million, but the difference is that Abbott is a much smaller company, so this contribution represented a full 10% of the business’s total profit from that year. If that’s not enough to make you respect the company, consider that Abbott also ranked among the top 10 companies with the best hiring practices, according to DiversityInc.
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2nd Most Charitable: Tyson Foods
Tyson (Stock Quote: TSN) has certainly endured its fair share of controversy in the past for the way it prepares chicken, but when it comes to being charitable, few companies are better. In 2009, Tyson gave $2.9 million to charity, which amounted to 10.7% of its annual profits.
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The Most Charitable: Pfizer
Pfizer (Stock Quote: PFE), the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, is also the most charitable business. According to the study, Pfizer gave more than $60 million to charity in 2009, amounting to an astounding 24.2% of its total profits for the year.
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3rd Best Hiring Practices: AT&T
Say what you will about AT&T’s (Stock Quote: T) reception issues, but when it comes to hiring staff members, this is a company that seems to hear everyone’s application equally. Not only does the company rank in the top 10 for hiring African American and LGBT employees, but according to DiversityInc, the company has also committed $100 million to a new initiative designed to stop Latinos and African Americans from dropping out of school.
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2nd Best Hiring Practices: Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (Stock Quote: JNJ) has had a tough year, plagued with recalls of some of its signature medications. However, the company continues to excel at being socially responsible. According to DiversityInc, Johnson & Johnson ranked #1 for hiring Asian Americans, and among the three best companies for promoting women to executive levels.
It also ranked as the second most environmentally friendly pharmaceutical company, according to ClimateCount, which noted that Johnson & Johnson actively encourages energy conservation and has publicly supported government efforts to curb global warming.
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The Best Hiring Practices: Sodexo
When it comes to hiring practices, no one beats Sodexo, a leading provider of quality of life services. This company ranked among the top 10 for hiring African Americans, Latinos and people with disabilities, and ranked #1 for promoting women to executive positions. In fact, the company has even introduced its own diversity scorecard to keep track of its progress with hiring practices.
Photo Credit: Sodexo.com
3rd Greenest Company: Timberland
Timberland isn’t perfect, as ClimateCounts points out, but it’s trying hard to reduce its carbon footprint (no pun intended). The company recently introduced an innovative scorecard to help the franchise target and reduce the negative impact it has on the environment.
Photo Credit: joe.schloz
2nd Greenest Company: General Electric
General Electric has been focused on tracking its impact on global warming for nearly a decade, and according to Climate Counts, this big business has tried to make its employees and customers more aware of climate issues as well. Beyond that, the report notes that GE has largely supported public policies that address the problem of climate change.
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The Greenest Company: Stonyfield
If you’re looking to shop at a green company, then you might want to start with Stonyfield. This organic food company regularly assesses its impact on the environment and has successfully reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the company continues to strongly support public policies addressing climate change.
Photo Credit: Mark Warner
The Wild Card: IBM
IBM may no longer be the leader in the world of computers, but this company continues to prove itself as a socially responsible business. It ranked as the second greenest electronics company, having reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and supported public policies to fight global warming in the future. IBM also ranks as the 8th most diverse company according to DiversityInc, and first for hiring people with disabilities. As if that’s not enough, IBM donated nearly $42 million to charity in 2009.
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