Consumers are becoming more and more socially conscious and want the goods and services they use to measure up. It doesn't take much. A simple action that costs a company very little -- or nothing at all -- can make a real difference in the mind of a customer and the company's bottom line.
In that spirit, here are five companies that make an effort to make the world a better place for you and me while making a tidy profit for themselves:
5 Companies That Really Do Care About the World
Bank of New York Mellon (BK) enforces good corporate behavior: Also listed on the FTSE4Good Index, BNY Mellon is a leader in corporate social responsibility, with innovative internal and external programs that address issues as diverse and traditionally unassociated with big banking such as human rights, stakeholder rights, community involvement, corporate governance, the environment, and ethics and transparency. And while many organizations are smart enough to at least pay lip service to ideas like this, BNY Mellon put its money where its PR is, producing a yearly report that states its CSR goals and addresses whether it's meeting them.
Banks are an indispensible part of daily economic life, and the world needs banks consumers and businesses can trust. In an age of big banks behaving badly, BNY Mellon refreshingly sets the standard for how ethically and responsibly a bank can behave.
Amazon.com's (AMZN) job stimulus program: Amazon has just announced a new, groundbreaking employee development program. The Amazon Career Choice Program gives all full-time employees with a tenure of three years the chance to pursue job training at the company's expense, up to $2,000 per year for four years, in a select set of high-paying, in-demand jobs.
And the field doesn't even have to be related to the job the employee is currently performing, or even anything the company could potentially offer a job to the employee in. The Amazon Career Choice Program is helping put Americans to work in jobs that they actually want to do.
Coca-Cola's (KO) (polar) bear hug: Coca-Cola is making a well-publicized effort to protect the polar bear and its habitat, an outgrowth of its polar-bear-focused ad campaigns. It's called the Arctic Home campaign, and it supports the World Wildlife Fund's efforts to protect the polar bear's Arctic habitat.
Good for PR? Yes, and hence good for the bottom line. Good for the polar bear and the environment we all have to share? Yes again. Everyone's a winner here. Coke is also listed on the prestigious FTSE4Good Index.
Microsoft's (MSFT) gift to Mother Nature: On July 1, Microsoft began the process of going completely carbon neutral across all of its operations. Each business unit will be responsible for the cost of offsetting its own carbon emissions. For emissions that can't be internally offset, the company will purchase carbon offsets on the open market.
Microsoft is a big company, and if this doesn't work out the way it thinks it will, it could end up costing a lot of real money. This program makes Microsoft look good and is good for the environment.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT) keeping customers fit: No room for your workout gear in your carry-on? Stay at a Westin hotel (a Starwood property) and, for a modest fee, you'll get clean sneakers and clean exercise clothes for the duration of your stay.
Westin calls it the WestinWORKOUT program and designed it to coincide with its guests' evolving fitness needs and to further promote well-being while on the road. Good for you, and good for Westin.
John Grgurich is regular contributor to The Motley Fool, and owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.com and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft.