DATA

THE PROS:

TOMS operates using a one-for-one model. The brand states that for every product sold, TOMS will help a person in need. TOMS has been criticized for this model in the past but has commissioned studies and is mobilizing critics to address some of these issues. In 2013, TOMS committed to producing one third of its shoes in the regions where it gives them. In December 2015, TOMS reported that the brand had achieved this goal. Since this commitment was made, the brand has created over 700 jobs in these regions and employed an equal ratio of male to female workers.

TOMS reports that some of its products are made of sustainable and vegan materials and that it is working to expand these offerings. Materials include natural hemp, organic cotton, and/or recycled polyester. TOMS has a vegan range of products.

In 2013, TOMS launched Marketplace, a platform created to help social entrepreneurs succeed. The companies featured in Marketplace are handpicked by TOMS, and go through an interview process that includes a review of their business practices and giving philosophies.

THE CONS:

The brands one-for-one business model has received a lot of criticism. One published by vox.com on July 23, 2021 stated that ‘buying TOMS shoes is a terrible way to help poor people’ and outlined the reasons why, including: a negative impact on local economies, an inefficient way to do charity, and that it perpetuates a stereotype of poor people as helpless and passive.

It is unclear if the brand can trace its supply chain. The brand does not share a complete list of supplier countries or names and addresses.

TOMS discloses that it does not implement a formal process to verify the entities in its supply chain but that it does require that all of its manufacturers and material suppliers certify that they will comply with the TOMS Supplier Code of Conduct.

The brand does not publicly share its environmental policies.

/ TOMS reports that it has over 620 employees at its shoe factories.

/ TOMS operates using a one for one model; the brand states that for every product sold, TOMS will help a person in need.

/ Since TOMS was founded in 2006, the brand has given 60 million pairs of shoes to children which indicates that in this time the brand has manufactured approximately 120 million pairs of shoes.

/ In the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, indicates that the company has more than $300 million in revenue.

/ The TOMS one-for-one business model has received a lot of criticism. One published by vox.com on July 23, 2021 stated that ‘buying TOMS shoes is a terrible way to help poor people’ and outlined the reasons why, including a negative impact on local economies, its a inefficient way to do charity, and that it perpetuates a stereotype of poor people as helpless and passive.

 

/ The brand has a partial list of supplier countries. TOMS states that its shoes are manufactured in various countries, including Argentina, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Haiti. The brand shares brief descriptions of its factories on its website.

/ TOMS eyewear is manufactured in China and Italy.

/ TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee beans are sourced from Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Rwanda and Malawi.

/ TOMS does not disclose a list of supplier names and addresses, and it is unclear if the brand can trace its entire supply chain.

/ The TOMS Supplier Code of Conduct outlines that workers should be paid wages that meet or exceed the mandated minimum standards. We don’t have information on which mandated minimum standards TOMS follows.

/ TOMS states that all of its footwear and eyewear factories in Ethiopia, China and Argentina are monitored on a periodic basis through unannounced and announced third party and internal audits. The information obtained from these audits (which include worker interviews) leads to corrective action and can influence business volumes and our ongoing business relationship. However, elsewhere on its website, TOMS discloses that it does not implement a formal process to verify the entities in its supply chain.

/ TOMS reports that it annually require its direct suppliers to certify that the materials incorporated into its products are procured in accordance with all applicable laws in the countries they do business in, including laws regarding slavery and human trafficking. However, the brand does not have a policy against the use of cotton sourced from Uzbekistan in its products.

/ TOMS encourages anyone with information on violations of the Supplier Code of Conduct to email them at [email protected].

/ In May 2016, Business of Fashion reported that 40% of TOMS shoes that are given away are made in the country in which they are distributed.

/ Rank-a-Brand gave TOMS an E, the lowest possible sustainability score.

/ TOMS reports that some of its products are made of sustainable and vegan materials and that it is working to expand these offerings. Materials include natural hemp, organic cotton, and/or recycled polyester. TOMS has a vegan range of products.

/ In March 2016, Ecouterre reported that PETA awarded TOMS with the organization’s annual Compassionate Business Award.

/ TOMS is a member of the Textile Exchange and is working with them to support the brand’s efforts to use more sustainable materials.

/ The brand states that its coffee beans are sustainably-sourced. We don’t have further information on how they define sustainably-sourced.

/ We don’t have any information on if the brand uses renewable energy at any stage of its supply chain, if the brand has measured its carbon footprint, what the brand is doing to reduce its carbon footprint, if the brand has measured its water footprint, what the brand is doing to reduce its water footprint, what the brand doing to ensure the proper treatment of water before it is returned to local waterways, policies that are in place to limit the use of hazardous chemicals, policies in place to reduce pollution and resources used for transport, waste management policies and recycling policies.

/ TOMS operates using a one for one model. The brand states that for every product sold, TOMS will help a person in need.

/ TOMS reports that some of its products are made of sustainable and vegan materials and that it is working to expand these offerings.

/ In May 2016, Business of Fashion reported that 40% of TOMS shoes that are given away are made in the country in which they are distributed.

/ In 2013, TOMS launched Marketplace, a platform created to help social entrepreneurs succeed. The companies featured in Marketplace are handpicked by TOMS, and go through an interview process that includes a review of their business practices and giving philosophies.

/ Through its one-for one model, TOMS has given over 60 million pairs of shoes to children. TOMS shoes are always given to children through humanitarian organizations who incorporate shoes into their community development programs. The brand states that its giving partners provide health, education and community development programs to help improve the future of children, their families and communities in need.

/ TOMS Eyewear launched in 2011, and has helped restore sight to over 400,000 people. TOMS works with a network of 14 Giving Partners in 13 countries. The initiative provides prescription glasses, medical treatment and/or sight-saving surgery with each purchase of eyewear. The program also supports sustainable community-based eye care programs, the creation of professional jobs and helps provide basic eye care training to local health volunteers and teachers.

/ TOM Roasting Co. launched in 2014, and has helped provide over 335,000 weeks of safe water in 7 countries. With every purchase of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee, the brand works with its partners to provide 140 liters of safe water for one person.

/ In 2015, TOMS Bag Collection launched in 4 countries with 3 Giving Partners to help address the need for advancements in maternal health. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby. With every bag purchased, TOMS states that it will help provide a safe birth for a mother and baby. Since 2015, TOMS Bag Collections has supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers.

/ TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, donates 100% of the profits from his book to The Start Something That Matters Foundation. The Foundation has provided start-up funds to over 20 companies with the assistance of partners like GOOD, Echoing Green and the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.

/ A study commissioned by TOMS found that giving shoes does not have a statistically significant negative impact on local markets. The study also measured the impact that giving shoes away has on the children themselves. The research found that 95% of the children in El Salvador had a favorable impression of the shoes, and they wore them heavily: 77% of the children wore them at least 3 days per week, and the most common response by children was wearing them every day. Additionally, the study discovered that there is no evidence that the shoes exhibit any kind of life-changing impact, except for potentially making them feel somewhat more reliant on external aid.

/ According to Bloomberg, in 2014 TOMS sold 50% of the company to private equity giant Bain Capital with a valuation of $625 million. Blake Mycoskie, founder and CEO, retains the remaining 50%.

/ We don’t have information on the CEO’s salary.

/ In 2011, LA Weekly reported that TOMS CEO Blake Mycoskie spoke at a California event sponsored by Focus On The Family, a right-wing evangelical Christian group with a strong anti-gay agenda. It was reported that Mycoskie responded in a blog post (the blog post is no longer available) that “Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event.” The article stated that Mycoskie had spoken at a number of evangelical Christian events for organisations with anti-gay beliefs.

/ TOMS provides benefits to its U.S. employees including medical, vision, dental, long term disability, life insurance and AD&D, healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts, employee assistance program, paid family leave, and 401(k). The brand also offers paid time off and a variety of fitness and wellness classes at its headquarters building outside of Los Angeles, California.

/ The TOMS Giving Team has set up a taskforce to research and identify the greatest needs around the world. This team studies UN statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to work by other international development experts.

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VOICES

 AMANDA TAUB | VOX

“But the truth is that while that kind of messaging is evidently a great way to sell trendy shoes, or to otherwise raise money, it’s not a very good way to do charity. At best, it’s inefficient: It focuses on programs that waste your hard-earned cash by failing to do the most good per dollar. At worst, it promotes a view of the world’s poor as helpless, ineffective people passively waiting for trinkets from shoe-buying Americans. While the shoes themselves probably won’t lead to any kind of disaster, that worldview can lead to bad policies and real, serious harm.” – 7/23/2015


BRUCE WYDICK | ACROSS TWO WORLDS

“The bad news is that there is no evidence that the shoes exhibit any kind of life-changing impact, except for potentially making them feel somewhat more reliant on external aid.

But in light of this study, what has made a great impression on each of us on the research team has been TOMS commitment to alter its program in response to shortcomings that have been manifest through our study as well as a number of other studies that the company has sponsored on its giving program.” – 3/16/2015


BusinessOfFashionDEREK RUEDIGER | BUSINESS OF FASHION

Toms has compelled a generation of young consumers to engage in their cause, not only through purchasing its products as a badge of self-expression, but also by rallying together for awareness-raising initiatives such as One Day Without Shoes, an annual event where supporters go barefoot to raise global awareness around children’s health and education issues. – 8/21/2014

BLAKE MYCOSKIE, Founder & Chief Shoe Giver | The Telegraph, 5/3/2021

“Consumers have more of an awareness now about what they’re buying and where it’s coming from. Since starting Toms, it’s been interesting to see how the landscape of business has changed. More people are including some method of giving into their business.” 


BLAKE MYCOSKIE, Founder & Chief Shoe Giver | Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2016

“As TOMS approaches its 10th anniversary, I feel more energized and committed than ever. As far as we’ve come, I still see tremendous opportunities to grow our movement. The “why” of TOMS—using business to improve lives—is bigger than myself, the shoes we sell, or any future products we might launch.”

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