More Than One Responsibility
In researching corporate social responsibility, we have found it is not a one-time process. Corporate social responsibility companies are usually purpose-driven. The simple act of sitting down with employees, stakeholders, and peers to craft a purpose statement takes persistence and dedication. Naturally, companies will need to revisit their purpose statement on a regular basis. They need to see how they are doing and if any processes need to be tweaked. They may also want to add benchmarks to their purpose statement and make sure it is still relevant and realistic. Since making and living up to a purpose statement is a recursive process, it comes with more than one duty or set of responsibilities. This is why, today, we would like to focus on a corporate social responsibilities definition. Just like one look at the purpose statement is not enough, one aspect of corporate social responsibility is not sufficient to meet goals.
Cotopaxi is one company that stands as a multiple corporate social responsibilities definition. The company makes backpacks for world travelers. It carries water bottles, tents, and nearly 100 other products for active outdoor adventure seekers. When you buy a backpack from Cotopaxi, you can never be sure of the design. The company lets workers at its factory pick the colors they want to use. This gives them a say and keeps the repetitive factory work from being too grinding. It allows workers to exercise their brains and creativity. This makes the operation more sustainable by keeping workers on board and engaged. Letting the workers choose keeps too much fabric from going to waste, further promoting sustainability. Sustainable practices are part of any corporate social responsibilities definition, and Cotopaxi has found its own way to meet those goals.
Changing the Core Model
In its earliest days, Cotopaxi practiced the “buy one, give one” model, following the examples of Warby Parker eyewear and Toms Shoes. Instead of donating a backpack, Cotopaxi gave a portion of the proceeds from each sale to a particular charity. As the company expanded and began offering other products, this practice became too much to keep up. It also meant that customer desire for each brand dictated which nonprofit received funds. So Cotopaxi brought a new chief impact officer on board and changed things up. The company now funds five organizations, fewer than in the past, and gives them 2 percent of company revenue at all times.
Better treatment of workers, better use of manufacturing materials, and a more equitable funding model for its grantees are all ways Cotopaxi produces a measurable impact. Their focus is on sustainability and giving back. They fund a variety of projects. Cotopaxi, in living up to its purpose, provides an eye opener for those of us looking for a corporate social responsibilities definition.
Davis shares his story behind the brand Cotopaxi and how their vacation has led them to a realize to build a company with a mission to help people.