Mountain Equipment Co-op, Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop, Patagonia, and TOMS Shoes are well known as pioneers of the concept of “values-led business” or “caring capitalism”. They all have a similar mission of “use business to make the world a better place”. For examples of Mountain Equipment Co-op, they might be to sells clothes and outdoor equipment, but their mission is to “act with integrity, driven by passion” This company constantly searching for ways to protect wild spaces and reduce ecological footprint of its business and their sustainable actions are seen as socially responsible by the people. Another socially and environmentally aware company like Ben & Jerry is one of the corporate we think of as a “good guys” company that are helping to save the world through sustainable actions. Their market is in ice cream industry and they only bought hormone-free milk and crème and used only organic fruits and nuts to make ice cream which it sold in environmentally friendly containers. Ben & Jerry buy their ingredients from minority and disadvantaged suppliers. This classic “do good” company deeply cared about its social and environmental responsibility.
What is your opinion of Unilever’s acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s? Does is necessarily mean that Ben & Jerry’s social mission will be abandoned? What would this mean to Ben & Jerry’s customers? What issues should Unilever be aware of in this case?
In my opinion, the acquisition is beneficial for both Unilever and Ben & Jerry. For Ben &Jerry in terms of business they were in the financially difficult moment.At the time of the acquisition, the Ben & Jerry’s management style lacked the fiscal and managerial discipline. As a result the company’s stock had fallen. So Cohen “saw businesspeople as tools” to preserve their company in harsh business world. From the Unilever’s perspective, this acquisition might have been risky because they had to understand Ben & Jerry’s brand well enough to perverse the intangible assets of the newly acquired company and simultaneously introducing some parent company’s fiscal and managerial controls. With an image that was shaped by the founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield over long time, Ben & Jerry’s work with sustainable, fair trade certified and organic suppliers; used environmentally friendly packaging; paid premium prices to dairy farmers and created business opportunities for disadvantaged people. For some people they would not like the fact that the big company like Unilever to acquire Ben & Jerry and might destroy their philosophy of “principles before profits” Therefore, experts in the Unilever would have foreseen the issues that might arise from this acquisition. So Unilever would not act without thinking and they willpreserve this market niche, which was based in no small part on the corporate image of Ben & Jerry’s social responsibility and left-leaning social activism.
Look at the winners of the CSR Awards. Considering its core business, what does it mean that a major oil company won the CSR awards in the larger firm category? What is your opinion of this?
Oil companies are constantly exploring to find more oil to burn, energy companies are running gas and coal-fired power stations and pumping more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is their core industry that makes them hard to be recognized for CSR Awards. Many people concerns for oil spills and other environmentally destructive nature of the business. So Irving Oil made a clever move to focus its socially responsible act internally. They were awarded CSR not because of their innovative and eco-friendly business but the human resources programs which included its Women Leading Women Program, its comprehensive programs, its comprehensive reviews of its social and ethical performance and its LiveWell employee wellness program. Therefore, their internally focused socially responsible action awarded them with CSR Awards. However, I think a socially responsible oil company would have to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by cutting energy consumption, use renewable energy and cut reliance on oil.
In the second half of the article, several major corporations are lauded for their CSR efforts. In your opinion, are these companies deserving of this acclaim? Do you think public perception of these brands matches the opinion of the article? Evaluate the following companies based on a] your knowledge/opinion b] your assessment of public opinion
From my experience and knowledge, TD Bank plays an important role in the local community. Like it is mentioned in the textbook article that speaks for the public opinion, TD Bank is an active and responsible community member that makes a positive impact wherever its employees live and work. The thing I love about TD Bank is that TD Bank hires people from many different cultures. Unlike RBC or Scotia Bank, their employees are diverse in culture. The reason why I like this is because it represents the Mosaic culture of Canada. Also I personally like this because when my mother who is not fluent in English needs to go to the bank, she does not have to always rely on me for help because almost any TD Bank branch they have a Korean speaking teller who can help her with the service. Therefore, subjectively I think TD Bank is promoting their socially responsible action well to demonstrate in themselves in the community.
Telus have been creating their brand image associated with future friendliness. Much recently, social responsibility has gone mainstream Telus started to follow the trend and tries to build up to create socially responsible image of the company. However, like all other telecommunication service company Telus have been criticised for poor customer services and their tricky voice and data plans. I think, without doing their core business right, socially responsible action would not help their business do better.
Walmart has been accused of using predatory pricing in selected market areas to drive smaller retailers out of business. Walmart has become a lightning rod for protests by people who worry that the mega-retailer’s practices will destroy the local businesses. Also, Walmart has been squeezing their employees and pay lowest wages possible so that they can provide customers with the lowest price possible. In 2011, Walmart Canada, whose network of 300 stores has been committed to implementing sustainable practices including its goal of having 100 percent of its energy come from renewable sources, to generating zero waste, and to supplying products that sustain both people and the environment. Walmart has emerged in recent years as the world’s super “eco-nanny” However, people does not like the fact that Walmart is not treating their employees in suitable manner. I think workers should be recognised not as ‘human resources’ who must be efficiently put to use by the company, but as the people who create the worth of the company and as such should determine their conditions of labour.
Starbucks’s comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing, using responsible purchasing practices; economic accountability demonstrated social responsibility and environmental leadership. Their C.A.F.E (Coffee and Farmer Equity) practices is guiding their way to the socially responsible company. From my Starbucks fanatic friends, I heard many good stories about how wonderful Starbucks is doing with their fair trade program. So I have done some research if they are actually doing well with the fair trade. Soon I found out that Starbucks’ C.A.F.E standards are focused on the farm level, not on Starbucks’ own commitment to farmers in terms or long-term stability. Unlike genuine faire trade standards, the C.A.F.E program standards do not specify either a minimum price or a standard for negotiating price that would guarantee a fair price for small farmers. It seems like Starbucks’ own in-house program is not as promising as it seems.
Pepsi is a well-known company worldwide and we are aware of their infamously unhealthy Pepsi cola. Like all other soft drink it is unhealthy to drink too much of it. However, PepsiCo has hired a team of scientists to help it develop a larger portfolio of healthy product options, such as the new Trop50 brand. This attractive idea of “making the bad stuff less bad” has changed people’s view of the unhealthy PepsiCo to “less unhealthy and bit more healthy” company. Pepsi’s change in their business does not stop there and they made an efforts to act on socially responsible way.
Their Pepsi ReFresh Project redefines its flagship brand as not just a soft drink but as an agent for world changer.
In my opinion, all of these company are well worthy to be lauded for their CSR efforts because they are acting on socially responsible and environmentally responsible movements in different part and different areas of the industry and field. Companies cannot always focus on the social and environmental perspective, but it is a great effort for them to make some changes in how they run the business. Furthermore, it is a great leap for them to adopting broad based “change the world” idea.