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:
- Social entrepreneurship – Lessons in Corporate Social Responsibility from TOMS Shoes
- CSR as a competitive strategy – On the 10th anniversary of TOMS, its founder talks stepping down, bringing in private equity, and why giving away shoes provides a competitive advantage
- CSR for founder-led businesses – Social Responsibility as a Startup Launchpad: A Look Into CSR and Entrepreneurship
- Founder vision and evolving corporate values and mission – The Founder of TOMS on Reimagining the Company’s Mission
- CSR as a complement to business model – Mixing Business Strategy, “Social Responsibility”
- Attractiveness of CSR-driven start-ups to private equity investors – Bain’s 50% stake in TOMS Shoes shows faith in socially-minded business
- Defining the difference between mission and purpose in CSR-led companies – Want a Purpose-Driven Business? Know The Difference Between Mission and Purpose
- Next-generation objectives of organizations founded with basis in CSR: supply chain improvement – Fixing Supply Chains: The Future Of Social Entrepreneurship and Business Itself
- Consumer shift to ethical spending – TOMS created the blueprint for making philanthropy fashionable. And they’re not done yet.
- Leveraging the concept of CSR as “profit from purpose” – The Non-Paradox of Highly Successful Profit-From Purpose Businesses
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.