This is a continuation of a blog post on how The Container Store unpacks employee engagement.
The Container Store offers sustainable, lasting products. We were able to chat with Audrey Robertson, VP of cultural programs, community relations, and social media, about the company’s digital and cultural impact programs.
While The Container Store does great community outreach and disaster relief work, what surprised us most in this interview was the company’s laser focus on its employees.
Here are the ways The Container Store prioritizes its workforce:
No HR needed.
You can read our COO/CSO Katya Andresen’s take on this data here.
Here’s a headline I like reading: Consumers Care about Buying from Socially Responsible Brands Now More Than Ever. It’s some good news from my favorite print magazine, Fast Company.
Good.Must.Grow., a socially responsible marketing company, recently conducted a poll of 1,015 Americans around conscious consumerism, and the results are encouraging. In 2011, 18% reported buying from socially responsible companies. In 2012, that number jumped to 30% saying they plan to purchase more goods from these companies.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that while 31% said they sought out socially responsible companies, 25% said they “avoided buying products from a company specifically because it wasn’t socially responsible”.
Soon-to-be college graduates Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez learned how gourmet mushrooms could be grown out of recycled coffee grounds. The idea – intriguing if nothing else – made them think: Should they forgo stable careers in the banking world for innovative entrepreneurship in the…mushroom world?
As you might have guessed, the answer is yes.
If you can believe it, initial interest from Whole Foods and Chez Panisse, along with a grant from their university, gave them the courage to create Back to the Roots—turning Arora and Velez into “full time urban mushroom farmers”.
Their mission is simple: To make food personal again through the passionate development of tools that educate and inspire, one family at a time.
As are their values: Hustle. Passion. Family. Universal Happiness.
A new study conducted by Good.Must.Grow has found consumers are apt to like and buy products from socially responsible companies - but they also question the claims of corporations who say they are committed to the greater good.
In the poll of 1,015 Americans, nearly a third of respondents claimed to have sought out socially responsible companies and a quarter said they avoided buying products from a company specifically because it wasn’t socially responsible. A majority (60%) of the study participants said buying goods from socially responsible companies was important to them, though a good deal tended to trump that consideration.
Patrick Hanlon, CEO of THINKTOPIA®—an innovative branding, marketing, consulting, and advertising firm—has the secret to brand relevance. Fortunately for us, he’s willing to share.
Q: How has the advent of ‘conscious consumerism’ influenced how brands approach marketing strategy?
A: I think it depends on the brand. Every brand has to have its introspective moment and decide if conscious capitalism aligns with its own vision and values. Its consciousness
This Valentine’s Day, as you throw chocolates and champagne in your shopping cart (or on your Pinterest board), consider adding an extra item: generosity.
I know it sounds cheesy—of course you know generosity isn’t stocked in supermarkets—but stick with me. The idea of moving Valentine’s Day away from dinner reservations and singles awareness towards a day of generous acts began in 2011 by Sasha Dichter, Scott Case, Ellen McGirt, and our own Katya Andresen.
The premise is simple.
Today, think about how you can be generous and then…just…be generous.
Want to spread the love but don’t know how? Try some of these on for size...
By Kate Olsen
I recently guest taught a MBA class on corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Georgetown. When I asked the students where they go to find out about a company’s CSR work, almost 100% said the annual report. That answer is fine for research activities, but just won’t fly when it comes to stakeholder engagement.
86% of Americans wish companies would tell them more about the results of their CSR efforts (Cone*)
While many companies are getting better at creating annual reports that communicate more than data and a love letter to the shareholders (in fact some are winning awards at Cannes), annual reports are not means to drive consumer and employee loyalty. You need real storytelling that meets people where they are for that.
By Kate Olsen
If you haven’t been paying attention, you might be surprised that your consumers and employees are the forces shaping your corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy – or at least they should be.
Let’s explore why and how.
In 2011, branding agency BBMG released a report highlighting the new ‘Conscious Consumers’ – the 70 million Americans who make their purchase decisions through lens of social impact. As BBMG puts it, “Early adopters and “box turners” increasingly concerned with products’ impact on the planet and its people, these savvy shoppers are twice as likely to try new things, share their opinions online and reward (or punish) brands based on corporate practices.”
All the profits! Amazingly, Cause gives 100% of its profits to charity. Why? Co-founder Nick Vilelle explains, “It’s easier and more transparent. When a company says ‘a portion of the proceeds’ or ‘10% of the profits’ go to charity, what does that mean? How much does that amount to? We make it clear and simple: after we’ve paid our bills, the rest goes to charity.”
Nonprofits in rotation. Cause’s first featured nonprofits—Agora Partnerships, Common Good City Farm, Higher Achievement, Martha’s Table—span a few different causes. (Full disclosure, Common Good City Farm and Martha’s Table are Network for Good customers.) By choosing different areas (entrepreneurship empowerment, food security and access, and education), Cause allows customers to connect with the issue closest to their hearts.
Charity choice. Patrons decide which of the featured charities they’d like to support by demarking their choice on the bill. They can also share their email address, so that Cause can close the loop on where their money went. This is smart for two reasons:
1) People, especially Millennials, want to know where their donations go.
2) It gives people the chance to connect to their cause without any added effort.
“We wanted to make sure people had the opportunity to get excited about cause. For instance, if we featured four education-focused nonprofits, and education wasn’t your issue, you might not be interested in the cause element.”
Put your money where your mouth is. Vilelle and co-founder Raj Ratwani are doing just that. From the sustainable decor—turn-of-the-century apple barrel bottoms morph into customizable stools, donated pews double as bar seating, 1930s National Geographic magazines line the walls—to the use of all animal parts (see: Trotter Tots) and support of local, seasonal foods, the Cause team looks at sustainability as an integral part of their business model. Even charities must prove their sustainability to be qualified as featured nonprofits.
“We believe this is the future of business. Now maybe not all businesses will wind up giving 100% of their profits away—I acknowledge that’s extreme—but more and more businesses are seeing the benefit of multiple bottom lines.”
Want to learn more? Visit them!
Don't live in DC? Follow them on Twitter @CauseDC.
All photos taken by author.
The term ‘philanthropub’ sounds too good to be true. Beer for a good cause? Color me intrigued. I’d heard of pop-up shops selling chocolate for good deeds and other ‘do good’ food-related business models, but they weren’t located anywhere close to DC. When I read about new ‘philanthropub’ Cause opening in the District, I had to learn more.
Food. Drinks. Cause. Through the power of social networks, I was able to connect with Cause’s co-founder, organizational psychologist by trade, and former Peace Corps volunteer Nick Vilelle. Nick gave me the scoop on their business plan, described how the menu was devised, and provided juicy tidbits on their digs.
It’s worth noting that Cause isn’t some hole-in-the-wall, ‘tree hugging’ kind of place. If I were walking down U Street (a hip area in DC) on a Saturday night, I would never know this bar/restaurant had a do-good mission…although the name might give them away. Cause has a fabulous space, delicious food (with loads of vegetarian options!), and fun, creative drinks.
Here’s the skinny:
- Cause gives 100% of its profits to charity.
- Featured nonprofits rotate per quarter.
- Customers determine which charity they’d like to support.
- Sustainability and inspiration is woven throughout the entire business.
All photos author's own.