I am a huge believer that the best way to make change happen is with our wallets. Everything is about business, about the bottom line. As individuals, we can preach it from the mountaintops. We can rally the crowds. But only when consumers talk do businesses listen.
The government, let’s not forget, is influenced by business too. That is precisely, in my opinion, how and why companies like Monsanto are still around today, having spent over $3.3 million in lobbying in 2014 alone and more than $57 million in the past 10 years.
Every day millions of dollars are spent around the country at retailers and on brands that have the opportunity to give back, whether it be to the environment, to the community, or in some other thoughtful way. More and more often, consumers are choosing to put their dollars behind brands that care about their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the greater community. Consumers are also getting wise to CSR (corporate social responsibility) tactics too, recognizing efforts that are genuine versus those that are being done to mask other disingenuous practices.
Where you put your consumer dollars based on social responsibility may have a few deciding factors. What matters most to you in your purchasing decisions may differ from what I would choose. The importance is knowing what matters to you, and acting on it with (or without) your dollars.
First, you may choose to not purchase brands that make products made with toxins. By doing so, you are looking at corporate responsibility in terms of what is in the product that you are using or consuming. For example, this may include avaoiding chemicals, parabens, phthalates, flame retardants, hormones, or sugar substitutes. It may include opting for brands that are organic, have added DHA, or are made with recycled materials.
Second, you may make your decision based on how the product is produced. Is it made in the U.S.A.? Is it farmed with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) or genetically edited organisms (GEO’s)? Is it handmade? Does the company employ environmentally-friendly tactics to reduce their carbon footprint?
Third, your purchasing decisions may be influenced by what the brand or retailer is doing to give back. This is exemplified by extra efforts beyond the making of the product. Do they make significant donations to charity? Do they participate in the community? Do they encourage employees to pay it forward in some way?
Personally, I prefer to take a look at all three measures of social responsibility, particularly as they relate to food and drink, as well as cosmetics and toiletries.
So, how do you know whether the brands you buy are being socially responsible? Just look for it. Almost every major retailer, company, and brand has a website. At the bottom of the website you will find the footer. Sometimes right there at the bottom there will be a link for “social responsibility.” Simply click on that to read more and decide if that brand is doing enough to be worthy of your dollars. Other times, you might have to search one step deeper, by going into the “About Us” section, or even the “Investor Relations” section. If you can’t find any information on a company’s corporate social responsibility, you might just want to think twice about that.
I encourage you to head on over, read, learn more, and let’s use our wallets to demand nothing but the best from the brands in our stores, and the stores on our streets. We deserve it.
Here are some of the social responsibility pages and reports from some of the country’s biggest brands. Though I do hope you continue to look further, this is a good place to start:
Ann Taylor Inc.
Bank of America
Barnes & Noble Inc.
Caesar’s Entertainment Group
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Radisson)
Chico’s FAS, Inc.
The Coca Cola Company
Foot Locker, Inc.
The Hershey Company
Johnson & Johnson
The North Face
Office Depot / Office Max
Procter & Gamble
The TJX Companies Inc.
The Walt Disney Company
Whole Foods Market
When consumers talk with their wallets, brands will listen. What are your consumer dollars saying?