Toms, the philanthropic for-profit brand that built an empire on giving away shoes for every pair sold, announced Wednesday its newly minted status as a certified B Corp, or benefit corporation.
The designation, which has been described as akin to the Fair Trade label, but for an entire company instead of just a bag of coffee, places the company among the ranks of 2,700 businesses worldwide that have committed themselves to upholding high standards of social and environmental performance to “balance profit with purpose,” according to B Lab, the nonprofit that administers the certification.
To obtain the B Corp Certification, companies must complete a B Impact Assessment and earn an audited minimum score of 80 out of 200 possible points. They must also apply for re-certification every two years, with the goal of continual improvement. Toms racked up a total of 96.3 in the realms of governance, workers, community and environment.
“At Toms we have always believed that striving to do right by the people and places we touch will not only lead to a positive social impact, but will also lead to positive business results,” Jim Ailing, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “We are proud to be associated with the other companies that have made the commitment to operate as B Corps and we hope that many others will join us.”
Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur and former “Amazing Race” contestant, founded Toms in 2006 after befriending children in a village in Argentina and finding their feet bare and unprotected. His company would go on to popularize the “buy one, give one” model, matching every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. To date, Toms has delivered more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to underprivileged children through its partners around the world.
Toms repeated its tack a few more times, first with Toms Eyewear, which helps restore sight to persons in need with every purchase of sunglasses and optical frames, then with Toms Roasting Co. coffee, which donates a week’s worth of clean drinking water for every bag of coffee sold. The Toms bag collection, launched in 2015, provides materials and training in support of safer births in developing countries.
The company isn’t shying away from highly politicized issues, either. To turn the tide on gun violence, Toms recently pledged to donate $5 million to nonprofits working toward gun control while using its platform to urge lawmakers to pass universal background checks.
Other fashion B Corps include Allbirds, Athleta, Eileen Fisher and Patagonia.