Responsible Business Snapshots: Bain Capital Private Equity
In 2006, TOMS founder and Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie went on vacation to Argentina. During his trip, he had become a fan of alpargatas, the canvas shoes worn there, and started thinking that the style might find a niche in the US market. Blake also spent time with a nonprofit that collected shoe donations for local children, and on his tours of rural areas, Blake saw firsthand the negative impact that a lack of shoes could have on kids—from frequent foot infections to decreased school attendance.
Blake was struck by the problem, and he initially thought about starting a charity to send shoes to kids in need. But he worried about the sustainability of the philanthropic model, and thought he might be able to tie sales of shoes in the United States to donations of shoes in areas where they’re most needed.
He found a partner in Argentina to work with him to produce shoes for the U.S. market and then shopped those shoes to retailers in Los Angeles and to consumers online.
Buyers loved the shoes, and they loved the mission that for every pair sold, one pair would be donated. An idea was born that sparked a movement: drawing inspiration from the TOMS model, more than 100 companies have launched one-for-one giving models in the last 10 years.
The company has also expanded its product line and its one-for-one model over time. In addition to giving away 75 million pairs of shoes since 2006, TOMS has developed new products so that it can back more philanthropic initiatives. This has enabled the company to:
• Provide sight services to more than 500,000 people
• Facilitate 450,000 weeks of safe water
• Support 175,000 safe births
• Serve more than 44,000 youth through bullying prevention and response programs.
TOMS’ employees are deeply committed to the success of the company because of its social mission. Customers also continue to see the value of TOMS’ philanthropic model: consumers in 2015 and 2016 reported that TOMS was their #1 top-of-mind socially conscious company.
Many of the portfolio companies across Bain Capital’s business units operate leading-edge environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives that have benefited employees, communities, and the bottom line. Below are just a few examples of the work that portfolio companies are doing to promote diversity, increase sustainable sourcing and product development, and improve strategic philanthropy.