Posts Tagged ‘CSR’

Whole Foods 365 and Volunteering

Whole Planet Foundation logo orange

Whole Foods Market powers-that-be have long had their hearts in the right place regarding food quality and the environment, helping shoppers find healthier food and grocery choices all under one wood-paneled roof…but clearly they would grow weary of the nickname their chain has: “Whole Paycheck.” Sure, prices are head-and-shoulders, overall, above the average grocery store, but it’s not just because there are artisanal cheeses and cut-your-own soap bars. Many of the products they sell, with the intention or at least bold claim of being healthy options, are from smaller companies with higher price points. That means you gasp a little when the friendly and seemingly pretty-darn-happy-to-work-there team member rings up your total.

Well, now there is a new initiative from Whole Foods. They are launching a new market aimed at millennials, called 365. Getting their prices competitive with Trader Joe’s and Kroger on a still-healthy collection of in-store groceries needed to happen. Since they made organic and healthy so cool for shoppers, (Wal-Mart offers an impressive array of organic products now!) the other stores caught on and offer a large overlap of the exact same products…so the unique business proposition of Whole Foods had grown far less unique.

So, with this agile pivot in their business model, I, of course wonder what their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs are like, particularly in relation to volunteering and social good causes…

The Whole Planet Foundation is the philanthropic and pro-social arm of the company, a 501(c)3 focused on alleviating world poverty and hunger. The foundation provides microfinance loan programs with community lending partners in 68 countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. Additionally, they support programs for training and support for the self-employed poor. Because the parent company is so stable, WPF is able to put 100% of donated dollars toward their impact mission–few charitable organizations can claim the same. The entirety of their overhead is covered by Whole Foods Markets.

OK, cool…so what can I (and you, too) do to support their mission? There isn’t yet a volunteer opportunity for shoppers and unaffiliated supporters, but employees, always called “Team Members,” have opportunities to travel and meet the microcredit clients funded by the organization and contribute effort to community service. Thus far, since their 2007 inception, 612 Team Members have volunteered in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States. The videos about some of the trips (watch 2013 Volunteer Program in Kenya video below) place heavy weight on cultural immersion and visits with a service component (which will undoubtedly piss off the recently jaded bloggers who want to slam volunteering) but there is big progress on community projects as well (and not in the bad, taking jobs away from locals way). I’m certain it has a big impact on the visited communities, the entrepreneurs that are supported by micro lending, and the volunteers who come home as activists and advocates, spreading awareness.

Roozt—Shopping for a Cause

If you’re anything like me, your e-mail box already overflows with daily sale posts from Gilt, Fab, RueLaLa, the Foundary, Joss and Main, Urban Daddy, Beyond the Rack, Jack Threads, and about a million more…and of course women can easily double the number of “exclusive” sale sites hoping to have inspiration delivered to their e-door. Because of the overload in the online retail space, I grow ever more hesitant about signing up for more. I rarely click on these commerce message any more like I used to in the early days, so why invite more alerts that will only get deleted?

Well, here’s why. A site that is new (to me) is Roozt, and they are all about curating brands (men’s, women’s, pets, food, accessories, home, electronics, etc–a huge and ever-growing list) that give back and are dedicated to making a positive impact on their community. It is as if someone has done the background research for me to confirm that the companies on offer are eco-cool, good to their employees, giving back, and adding some social responsibility to the world. I love that. Membership in Roozt is free, and as a little cherry on top, in partnership with Feeding America, for each member signing up, they will provide a nutritious meal to an American in need.

Good to get in on this smart sale stuff before the holiday frenzy begins, and alleviate some guilt of conspicuous consumerism…now if they can work on alleviating the guilt of scarfing up all that holiday baking, it will be a merry season for sure.

Microsoft YouthSpark

I am such a huge fan of Corporate Social Responsibility and all of its many flavors across the business world. When large organizations find ways to be responsible not only to shareholders, but also to their employee teams, communities where they are based, and inspiring global projects, it fires me up and gives me lots of hope. A computer manufacturer spearheading recycling, or a publisher building schools, or an energy giant leading the charge in potable water issues–these go a long way in my mind to balancing some of what is so unbalanced in our world. (The energy each of us individually puts out toward bettering the world moves the needle just as dramatically, by the way)

Microsoft has a great program for young people, called YouthSpark. The initiative’s goal is to provide opportunities, in education, employment, and entrepreneurship, for hundreds of millions of young people around the world. They partner with governments, non-profits, and businesses to make forward momentum for young people more attainable. Students get access to computer software and development tools at no cost, fundraising projects are dreamed and communicated so financial goals get met, technology competitions, mentoring, empowerment in truly tangible ways is happening because of this work.

Does your workplace commit to bettering the world (beyond the widgets you sell or services you provide for profit)? Can you see a way they/you can? Put that into action. Suggest it to the boss. It is only by playing larger than we usually do that we create seismic shifts, and, like a spark, catch fire and spread. So, get large!