Practical insights for compliance and ethics professionals and commentary on the intersection of compliance and culture.


TOMS is a well-known California-based retail company.  The company sells footwear, eyeglasses, coffee, clothing, and handbags.  Its most iconic item is the alpargata shoe, a casual style based on a traditional Argentine shoe.  The TOMS business model began with this shoe, and every time TOMS sold a pair, a new pair was given to a child without adequate footwear.  As the TOMS product line expanded, this philanthropic mission was extended to each of the new business items.  With each pair of glasses sold, TOMS uses part of the profit on vision projects in the developing world.  In honor of each purchase of TOMS coffee, the company works with partner organizations to provide water to communities in need.  Handbags sold benefit maternal health and safe childbirth initiatives.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), therefore, is a significant driver of the TOMS business strategy and purpose.  The company was started by entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie with the entire purpose of serving as a philanthropic project to provide shoes to children in developing nations.  Throughout the company’s history since, raising awareness of the importance of having shoes for best health and safety practices.  The TOMS “one for one” business model where a charitable contribution is made for each purchase imbeds CSR in the commercial strategy of the company.

In order for TOMS to sustain the giving objectives of the company, it must grow steadily and thoughtfully with its socially-minded objective at hand.  Some examples of how TOMS has incorporated its CSR origins in its business strategy and mission are as follows:

For a broad overview on the essentiality of corporate engagement in social and political issues to inspire activism and give power to reform objectives, check out this post on compliance programs and CSR initiatives.

For similar posts on CSR and business values, check out this post on political engagement as corporate strategy at Patagonia, this post on the CSR Roadmap of Tony’s Chocolonely, this post on Ben & Jerry’s, or this post on Starbucks.

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