Tom’s of Maine Maintains CSR Values Even through Acquisition - Gauthereau Group

tomsThe Kennebunk, Maine-based Tom’s of Maine — a producer of deodorants, soaps and toothpastes — creates products that feature no artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives. Not one Tom’s product has been tested on animals, for which the company has been endorsed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny Program. However, Tom’s represents much more than what goes into its products and its far-reaching CSR initiatives. In 2006, Tom’s was acquired by Colgate-Palmolive, which drew skepticism to the company’s future potential to maintain its socially responsible policies. Despite its decision to sell, Tom’s hasn’t sold-out. In addition to Patagonia and Stonyfield Farm, Tom’s is among a small group of companies determined to make as much of a difference as it does a profit.

The company’s website features a 614-word explanation of its goals as a business and as a member of the global community. In the statement, Tom’s cites a respect for nature and environmentalism, a safe work environment for employees, product safety, diversity and, of course, financial success. These pillars of Tom’s CSR philosophy are evident in the work it does with its neighboring community.

For starters, the company’s 5% volunteer benefit encourages employees to dedicate 5% of their paid work time to nonprofit work. Employees have used this time to volunteer at historical societies, to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, to maintain trails and facilities at state parks, and to help an elderly neighbor shovel snow, according to the company website. In addition to paid volunteer-time, Tom’s has traditionally offered employees one-month maternity or paternity leave, partial child care reimbursement for employees earning less than $32,000 annually, flexible work schedules, and a child care referral service, according to a 2001 GreenBiz.com piece.

Tom’s recently partnered with TerraCycle on a project that urges organizations to recycle. For every load of recycled material a business generates, a certain number of points are registered; these points can be converted into gifts or cash for a local school or charity. Tom’s also partners with River Network and American Rivers, to help maintain the health and safety of the nation’s rivers. Last year, more than 100,000 volunteers removed more than 700 tons of trash from the nation’s rivers, the site says.

Each year, the company donates 10% of its profits to charitable organizations. Recipients include The University of Chicago, River Tree Arts and therapeutic riding center Angels Dancing with Horses. It has also donated more than $1 million to its Dental Health for All sweepstakes, which has provided funding to more than 35 school- and community-based dental clinics, making possible more than 200,000 annual patient visits have been made possible.

Tom’s has managed to successfully exit while keeping in place the policies that have helped it succeed and become an example for startups to follow and this is an incredibly important achievement that I hope many other companies will follow in the future.