Companies with a conscience

Stop. Close your eyes and think about the qualities of a successful company.

If you are like many environmentalists, these words may have came to mind: Profit. Exploitation. Pollution.

In today’s world it’s easy for us to get caught up in what is going wrong in in society, and in doing so, we forget to focus on the good. We forget to think about those companies who do their best to end exploitation and do good for the environment at the same time.

Here is what these “do-good” companies have realized: being a good sumaritan is actually good for your company.

Chipotle

Chipotle has all the ingredients (literally) for a successful business. They have a niche, they have a business sense, and they even top it off with tasty burritos.

But this product has a conscience. Chipotle’s menu consists of natural and organic ingredients.

The hallmarks of Food With Integrity include things like unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal. And, since embracing this philosophy, it’s had tremendous impact on how we run our restaurants and our business. It’s led us to serve more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the country, to push for more sustainable practices in produce farming, and to work with dairy suppliers to eliminate the use of added hormones from their operations. —Chipotle Web site.

Learn more about Chipotle’s Food With Integrity philosophy here.

Aveda

Aveda has a superb product and comparable prices to other designer hair and beauty manufacturers.

So what makes them stand out?

Aveda believes there is no responsible alternative to doing business other than through environmental sustainability. At Aveda, we also believe that profit and environmental responsibility will increasingly work together as more industries find out that “nature works” for both sustainability and the bottom-line. –Aveda Web site

Aveda uses 100 percent wind power to operate their manufacturing facilities. Aveda is also one of the largest purchasers of organic ingredients among beauty organizations. Aveda doesn’t stop there, however. They support responsible packaging, participate in charitable giving, and support the indigenous communities that help provide Aveda with its natural plant-based ingredients.

Organic valley

Organic Valley, the “Family of Farms,” is comprised of1,205 farmers from across the United States. Instead of the traditional company, where the wealth is distributed to only a few, each member of the Organic Valley cooperative shares the organization’s wealth.

Organic Valley prides itself in distributing food that is better for the environment and better for people.

A commitment to choosing local and regionally produced foods is a core value of the organic movement. In addition to fresher foods and reduced fossil fuel consumption, the profit from the sale of locally produced foods is more likely to find its way back into the community. Consumers and family farmers working together to support such local systems form a sustainable partnership. –Organic Valley Web site

And all this environmentalism has profitted the company. The sales of this $259-million cooperative jumped 25 percent in 2005. This is an above-average growth rate for even a conventional food company.

So, environmentalists and social advocates, do not despair! There IS good in the world! I feel a wind of change in here and I think I sense the dawn of a new kind of company — a company that gives back equally to what it takes. A company that truly cares about the world. A company with a conscience.

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2 responses to “Companies with a conscience

  1. Yes, Chipotle markets itself as a socially responsible company, but unfortunately it is only that–a marketing scheme–not an authentic commitment to “revolutionizing the way food is grown and gathered” like it says in its “Food with Integrity manifesto.”

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)–a community-based organization of immigrant farmworkers in SW Florida–has called on the fast-food industry to work with them to ensure fair wages and human rights for the workers who pick tomatoes that end up in these companies’ burritos, burgers and salads.

    Tomato pickers in Florida receive sub-poverty wages that have been stagnant for the last 30 years, are denied the right to organize or to overtime pay, and lack benefits of any kind. In the most extreme situations, they are forced to work against their will in situation of modern-day slavery.

    The CIW approached Chipotle about improving these conditions (see their original letter to Chipotle here: http://www.ciw-online.org/Chipotle_letter.html). However, Chipotle ignored the them.

    When the CIW raised the issue publicly, instead of engagin in dialogue, Chipotle claimed to have ceased purchasing tomatoes from Florida. Instead of taking an opportunity to influence its suppliers for the better, Chipotle went out of its way to avoid improving conditions for workers.

    If Chipotle is unwilling to ensure “work with dignity” for those who pick the tomatoes for its tacos and burritos, I don’t know how it can claim to have “food with integrity.”

  2. Thanks for the comment. On a corporate level, I still think Chipotle has more integrity than the average American restaurant, but your point is taken and noted. At least they decided not to support companies who mistreat their workers by taking their business elsewhere. That said, they should have taken a stand on this issue.

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