Written by Sarah Brown on April 9, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

For most people, TOMS Shoes is one of the first businesses that comes to mind when corporate social responsibility is mentioned. The reason? TOMS was founded with a corporate social responsibility program that is inseparable from its mission.

TOMS was established in 2006 on the social mission of matching every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. From the beginning, founder Blake Mycoskie has worked to integrate sustainable and responsible practices into all that the business does.

Mycoskie was inspired by a trip to Argentina where we saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. He worked to establish TOMS Shoes as a way to take compassionate action and revolutionize corporate sustainability.

During its first year in business TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. Today, TOMS gives shoes in more than 50 countries and works with charitable partners who incorporate shoes into their health, education, hygiene and community development programs.

TOMS’ efforts are focused on environmental and social impacts of every aspect of their operations — from the materials that the shoes are made out of to the boxes they are shipped in. TOMS Shoes include natural hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester, while boxes are made from 80% recycled post-consumer waste and printed with soy ink.

On an annual basis, TOMS requires direct suppliers to certify that the materials incorporated into their products are obtained in accordance with slavery and human trafficking laws, and that employees actively work to prevent slavery and human trafficking within the supply chain.

In many ways, TOMS has redefined 21st century social entrepreneurship and corporate responsibility. Their “one for one” approach emphasizes the importance of building sustainability into the business model because sales equal the good done.

When customers buy a pair of TOMS Shoes, they are doing more than purchasing shoes — they’re giving a child a mode of transportation, safety and a way to prevent disease. That is a gift that represents a commitment to personal and corporate social responsibility that we can all model.

Corporate sustainability can’t be something that is done haphazardly. Companies need to pledge to change the way they look at business in order to impact the planet and develop a true social mission.

Each week during Earth Month, Momentum will feature a business that is positively impacting our planet by focusing on corporate sustainability and giving back through its social mission. Subscribe to the Momentum Blog to read more about the our favorite eco-friendly businesses.

Photo Credit: Flickr