Thursday, October 7, 2010

Forbes Top Ethical Companies: Considering frugal Picks


Considering frugal company picks
Considering frugal Ethical Company Picks
Finding ethical companies to patronize is among the biggest frustrations for the socially conscience shopper.  This process is often made even more painstaking as we consult consumer reports in periodicals such as Forbes and discuss various political and social beliefs with friends and family.  I know for me several of the top ethical companies listed on Forbes are not what I would consider ethical at all.  Often we are bombarded with rumors of facts and figures circulated by various organizations that we are emotionally invested in. 

So, what is an ethical company?

An ethical company may not always agree with your personal belief systems.  An ethical company is a company that has core values and a business plan that values human and organic life rather than taking advantage of it.  Two great examples of this can be found in comparing the business plans of Starbucks and Nike.

Some would argue that Nike (one of Forbes most ethical pics) is now a leader in social responsibility with its guidelines for review, using fewer chemicals in the process of product production as well as its philanthropic opportunities, however Nike poses an interesting social dilemma, it states clearly and specifically on its website that it will not give any product or grants to a religious organization. If Nike is one of the trend setters in social responsibility, then this leaves us with the question is discriminating against groups with religious affiliations socially responsibly behavior?

Starbucks (also on Forbes most ethical pics) was one of the first companies founded on the principles of social responsibility. Starbucks intentionally spends more on employee health care then they do on purchasing their product. Starbucks offers full health insurance benefits to all of its employees both full and part-time. As a result Starbucks has one of the lowest employee turnovers of any retail business. In a country where affordable health care and health insurance are in complete scarcity, some would consider this extreme social responsibility.

Many pro-life/pro-family political supporters have been banning Starbucks for several years; however I would be inclined to believe that the solution to this problem is not so much found in banning Starbucks as in petitioning the local establishments. If the local managers are given the freedom to support what the community supports than by all means as a community we must request donations for our educational programs and pertinent social needs.

Characteristic of a decentralized organizational model, Starbucks will shift with the paradigm of society. The direction that Nike has taken is blatantly socially irresponsible. To discriminate against religious groups is corporate cowardice; Nike does not want to be accused of taking a religious stand in one direction or the other, so it will not donate to any at all, no matter how worthy the cause.


A decentralized organizational model is prone to unethical behavior; however Starbucks is a model that can be used to argue against this theory as it uses its decentralization to encourage its managers as well as individual employees to look for ways in which they can exhibit ethical behavior. I would argue that the decentralized organizational model, when used properly, encourages ethical behavior.

So, based on this information I have formed my own list of best and worst companies in regards to ethics.

My best list includes:

Starbucks for their decentralized business model, excellent employee treatment and commitment to fair trade.

Likewise, Costco, Chicfila, QT, Annie's Organics, Seventh Generation, Henkel, Salvation Army, Toyota, Ford Motor Company, Burt's Bees and Trader Joe's.

My worst pics list includes:

Nike, Walmart (I don't have the time or space to go into this now, you must read "Is Walmart Bad for America"), Duke Energy, Whole Foods (thier brands are not always "whole") and Kellog.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I did not consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I am normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. I did succeed in changing our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming where we are about to take an even bigger step and move out on a dirt road in the country where we can expand our hobby bees and more! You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8

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