Chapel Hill, N.C. (August 14, 2014) – Thanks to the growing popularity of corporate social responsibility (CSR), businesses are putting more emphasis on making a difference in the world around them. A focus on good corporate citizenship improves conditions in local communities, but also ultimately yields higher returns as it forges deeper connections with customers who care about social good. This approach is especially effective when the cause aligns with a company’s core business; for instance, a grocery store partnering with organizations aimed at alleviating hunger.
CSR can take different forms in different companies and communities, but here is a look at 8 companies with a North Carolina presence that are leading the way.
1. Lowe’s: The home improvement brand has customer support centers in Mooresville, Wilkesboro, and North Wilkesboro, and prides itself on social responsibility initiatives. Lowe’s partners with Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross to help provide homes for low-income families and help others rebuild following natural disasters. A companywide program called Lowe’s Heroes encourages employees to volunteer in the communities they serve. Employees completed more than 1,200 projects using $1.75 million in materials last year alone.
2. Harris Teeter : This grocery store chain is headquartered in Matthews and has dozens of stores across the state. Among its social responsibility initiatives is a program called Together in Education, a fundraising program for local schools. When customers designate a school and purchase select Harris Teeter brand products, a portion of the proceeds support the school of their choice. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, Harris Teeter had donated more than $600,000 to schools through this program.
3. ettain Group : Headquartered in Charlotte, this staffing and consulting company is an active contributor to numerous charities including Autism Speaks, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Toys for Tots, and All-In to Fight Cancer. Employees also participate in athletic events to raise funds for charity.
4. Alston & Bird : Corporate law firm Alston & Bird has two offices in North Carolina and gives full-time employees 15 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer in the community through activities like building Habitat for Humanity homes, driving cancer patients to medical appointments, or helping at a local food bank. Its “Dollars for Doers” program awards grants to nonprofits on behalf of employees who volunteer their time with those organizations.
5. Transportation Impact : Based in Emerald Isle, this Inc. 5000 transportation company has worked with charitable organizations including the Petty Family Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club, The Broad Street Clinic, and The American Heart Association. The company also awards scholarships to local students and participates in community events such as the Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival.
6. The Fresh Market Inc. : This homegrown grocery store brand began in Greensboro, and in 2013, donated more than $16 million worth of food to food banks. Fresh Markets has national charitable partnerships with Share Our Strength, the American Red Cross, and JDRF. Through its partnership with New England Aquarium, Fresh Market is committed to an environmentally sustainable seafood policy.
7. SAS : This analytics software developer is headquartered in Cary. The SAS Executive Sustainability Council works to ensure sustainability in the company’s operations. SAS is also involved in supporting educational programs including Communities in Schools, DonorsChoose.org, and YMCA of the Triangle. Through the Employee Volunteer Fund, SAS contributes to the education-focused nonprofits where employees volunteer.
8. Sealy Corporation : Headquartered in Trinity, this mattress brand supports a long list of charities including Salvation Army, the American Red Cross (including $1 million in cash and products to support Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts), United Way, and local YMCAs. Sealy employees volunteer at countless nonprofits as well. In addition, Sealy has adopted lean manufacturing and material-sourcing practices such as using 100 percent recycled steel and reducing material waste.
Editor’s note: This original version of this article is featured on MPA@UNC, the official blog of the UNC-CH School of Government.
8 North Carolina Companies Committed to Corporate Social Responsibility