Positive Impact Organizations

The organizations presented in this section illustrate some good practices in companies’ journeys to becoming Positive Impact Organizations (PIO). Such organizations can be either:

  • actively reducing their CO2 footprint and engaging in net zero initiatives

          (corresponding to BST 2.0: Advanced Sustainability)  --> we have examples collected here

or

  • creating a positive impact by innovating new products and services to solve societal or environmental issues

         (corresponding to BST 3.0: True Business Sustainability) --> we have examples collected here

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Inspiration from Positive Impact Leaders

We have conducted interviews with CEOs of leading Swiss Positive Impact Organizations to learn about their approach to creating positive impact. Listen here to:

Christian Mumenthaler, CEO of Swiss Re

Arnd Kaldowski, Sonova Group

Fabrice Zumbrunnen, Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund

Bracken Darrell, Logitech

They share their thoughts on the following topics:

Leadership Mindset

Organizational Mindset

Innovations for Society

Tips for CEOs

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TEDx on the Moving Business from Net Zero to Positive Impact

In the video below from the TEDx event at University of St. Gallen, Thomas Dyllick from the IBS explains​ the importance of linking the sustainability goals and strategies of businesses to the sustainability challenges of society. This "outside-in" perspective is one of the key to move from business as usual to True Business Sustainability and to reach Positive Impact.

Advanced Business Sustainability (2.0)

The organizations featured below are well-advanced on their way to achieve Positive Impact. They are actively reducing their CO2 footprint or global environmental impact, reporting in a transparent way on their sustainability performance and/or engaging thoroughly with its stakeholders or in net zero initiatives, thus embracing advanced business sustainability.

 
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Backbone (formerly Meso Impact Finance)

Backbone is a small advisory company whose aim is to support the development of impact investing as an alternative financing and investment process in SMEs. They focus on sustainable agri-business, education, medical care and community service & social inclusion. All investment targets must commit to advance at least SDG 8 “Sustainable economic growth”.

Sector: Finance

Country: Luxembourg

Total Revenue: n.a.

Number of employees: 7 (2020)

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Beechenhill Farm Hotel

Read the case study

The Beechenhill Farm Hotel seeks to improve the environment, use resources efficiently and create less waste in exchange for its location in an exceptionally valuable landscape and around diverse local communities. The family-owned farm produces organic milk.

Sector: Hospitality

Country: UK

Total Revenue: n.a.

Number of employees: n.a.

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Dean's Beans

Deans Beans brews coffee and advocates to create real change through ethical practices that are rooted in respect for the earth and for all players in their supply chain, including the farmers’ cooperative and consumers. The B Corp certified organization has been organic since day one. It applies people-centred development programs and engages in social activism.

Sector: Food & Beverage

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 1.1 million (2020)

Number of employees: 6 (2020)

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Dopper

Dopper is a B Corp that is “empowering people to choose reusable over single-use water bottles, to protect our world’s waters”. The CEO is an idealist who wants to sell “good” products. Dopper is engaged in educational programs on plastic recycling and in a water project in Nepal.

Sector: Manufacturing

Country: Netherlands

Total Revenue: US$ 12.8 million (2020)

Number of employees: 56 (2020)

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F.Hoffmann - La Roche

Roche commits to improving lives through its lasting innovation. It aims at providing a rewarding workplace, being a trustworthy partner and engaging in the community. The organization committed to halve its total environmental impact by 2029 and reach zero GHG emissions from scope 1 and 2 by 2050.

Sector: Phamaceutical

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 58.32 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 101’200 (2020)

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H&M

Even though H&M’s main business model is fast fashion, the company is developing new sustainable brands and product offerings to “make fashion and design accessible to everyone, in a way that’s good for people, the planet and the industry”. It is committed to reduce its own emissions by 20% and its scope 3 emissions throughout the supply chain by 10% in 2025, in alignment with the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Sector: Clothing

Country: Sweden

Total Revenue: US$ 187 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 110’325 (2020)

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IKEA

With the goal to be “People and Planet Positive”, IKEA is balancing economic growth and positive social impact with environmental protection and regeneration. The organization developed a “Second Life” service and circular hubs to promote circularity for its products. It keeps all stakeholders informed on its sustainability progress. It also launched a 2030 forest agenda to protect forests and their biodiversity and has committed to offer 50% plant-based products in their restaurants and 80% in their packaged food by 2025 with the ambition to become climate positive by 2030.

Sector: Retail & Wholesale

Country: Sweden

Total Revenue: EUR 41.3 billion (2019)

Number of employees: 211’000 (2019)

Interloop

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Interloop’s mission is to be an “agent of positive change for the stakeholders and the community” through the pursuit of ethical and sustainable business practices.  It targets to reduce its emissions, its water and energy consumption and to create a lasting social impact for its workforce and community.

Sector: Clothing

Country: Pakistan

Total Revenue: US$ 98.2 million (2021)

Number of employees: 25’378 (2021)

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Holcim (formerly LafargeHolcim)

As leader in the construction materials industry, Holcim is working on its own operations’ positive impact but also on making the entire construction materials value chain and industry more mindful of resources use and impacts on nature. It has set targets to reduce emissions of its own activities and along its supply chain, as approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative. The cement company engages extensively with its stakeholders. It reports and communicates in a very transparent manner.

Sector: Construction materials

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 23.14 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 67'409 (2020)

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Levi Strauss & Co

Levi Strauss & Co integrates sustainability in its operational and strategic activities (e.g. Buy Better, Wear Longer campaign) and strives to reduce its impact along the value chain. It is driven by its vision “better clothes made from better materials”. The clothing company is committed to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 90%, shift to 100% renewable electricity, and reduce emissions by 40% across their supply chain (scope 3) by 2025.

Sector: Clothing

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 4.5 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 14'800 (2020)

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Lombard Odier

The B Corp developed a net zero environmental plan for its operations by 2030 and for its investments by 2050 with a conviction that sustainable investing is the way to generate long-term returns and grow its clients' prosperity in perpetuity. Through the Lombard Odier Foundation they support caritative institutions and local societal and/or environmental projects.

Sector: Finance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 1.4 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 2'560 (2020)

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Rhomberg

The Austrian construction company aims to meet the needs of the current generation without restricting opportunities for the ones to come. The family business thus develops sustainable projects where all players share responsibility for each other and for the planet. It also reports transparently on areas for improvement and draws particular attention to the resources used and the product life-cycles.

Sector: Construction

Country: Austria

Total Revenue: US$ 127.63 million (2020)

Number of employees: 358 (2020)

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Royal Lancaster London

This hotel seeks to deliver rich experiences for its guests while committing to personal, social, and environmental integrity in the local community. It strives to reduce energy consumption and waste and installed beehives on its roof to help conserve natural resources.

Sector: Hospitality

Country: UK

Total Revenue: n.a.

Number of employees: n.a.

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Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric incorporates sustainability into its core strategy by addressing all SDGs and pledging for net zero biodiversity loss in its operations by 2030 and end-to-end carbon neutrality by 2040. It supports its suppliers in reaching their emissions reduction journey through training, expert consulting, tools and solutions. A Schneider Electric Foundation was created to empower young people through volunteering and professional training.

Sector: IT & Electronic

Country: France

Total Revenue: EUR 28.5 bilion (2020)

Number of employees: 130'770 (2020)

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Tesla

The car company’s purpose is to transition society to sustainable energy. Although its focus is on profits, its products are sustainable by design and it paved the way to electromobility for other companies in the industry. Its procurement strategy includes Human Rights due diligence and environmental protection.

Sector: Automobile

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 31.54 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 70'757 (2020)

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Unilever

Unilever’s purpose “Make sustainable living common place” and strategic compass integrate business strategy and sustainability. It extensively reports on its performance and net zero targets for 2025 and 2030. Also the group’s brands are committed to moving to more conscious, inclusive and healthy products.

Sector: Consumer goods

Country: UK

Total Revenue: EUR 50.7 million (2020)

Number of employees: 149’000 (2020)

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Walmart

Walmart is gradually integrating sustainability into its strategy, reporting practices, supply chain and products. It is offering to protect, restore, and use sustainably our natural resources. In particular, it is committed to zero emissions across global operations by 2040 and to help protect, restore or manage 50 million acres lands and 1 million square miles of oceans by 2030.

Sector: Consumer goods

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 548.74 bilion (2020)

Number of employees: 2.3 million (2020)

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Zurich Insurance Group

Zurich with its core purpose to help others, integrates ESG criteria in its investment process, builds an impact investment portfolio and embeds sustainability in its strategic goals. It has a group-wide climate approach for a 1.5°C future and aims for investment decarbonization by 2050, all in collaboration with the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Sector: Insurance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 51.6 billion (2020)

Number of employees: 55'000 (2020)

True Business Sustainability (3.0)

The organizations featured here below have embraced the outside-in perspective that is key to Positive Impact Organizations as defined by Dyllick and Muff (2016) and by Muff (2021). They create a positive impact by innovating new products and services to solve societal or environmental problems and thus embrace a true business sustainability perspective.

 
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Alternative Bank Schweiz

The ABS emphasizes its ethical principles rather than profit maximization. This reflects in its selective investment strategies to exclude industries that are not aligned with the bank’s values and support for projects with a positive impact on the planet and/or society. The bank also invests into small scale social and environmental projects.

Sector: Finance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 570'000 (2020)

Number of employees: 120 (2020)

Read the case study

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Aspiration

Aspiration is an alternative personal finance company. It provides access to sustainable investment funds that are normally only available to the “super-wealthy”. Their transparent business model “pay what’s fair” allows customers to define what they think Aspiration services are worth thus creating a customer-centered organization.

Sector: Finance

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 14.7 million (2020)

Number of employees: 247 (2020)

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Blue Horizon

Blue Horizon is an investment fund on a mission to replace animal-based proteins with sustainable alternatives and transform the global food ecosystem. The organization invests in food companies better for society and the planet and supports innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs in their journey to make food systems more sustainable.

Sector: Finance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 392’583 (2020)

Number of employees: 6 (2020)

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Blue Orchards

The Swiss impact investment manager presents itself as the place where “financial returns meet social and environmental impact”. Its investment focus is on critical infrastructure projects in the developing world. Through its investing and financing services, the organization supports the SDGs and is certified carbon neutral.

Sector: Finance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue:US2.26 million (2020)

Number of employees: 47 (2020)

Cipla

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Cipla translates its moto “Together towards a timeless purpose of caring for life” by providing access to high quality and affordable medicines to patients in need. The organization challenges the pharmaceutical industry by raising the question of the balance between pharma companies profit and society’s and individuals’ interest. The organization aims to be carbon and water neutral by 2025.

Sector: Pharmaceutical

Country: India

Total Revenue: US$ 2.14 million (2020)

Number of employees: 60 (2020)

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Climeworks

The start-up’s business is to capture carbon dioxide from the air and use it as raw material for other purposes or store it safely underground. It is by nature truly sustainable. The organization also uses only solar and waste energy to run its facilities and participates to the fight against climate change by offering companies and individuals an option to compensate their emissions.

Sector: Energy

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 19 million (2020)

Number of employees: 98 (2020)

Read the case study

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Ecosia

Ecosia is a social business building products that channel everyday actions into environmental good and using the entirety of its profits for climate action. Every time a query is made with the research engine, the right tree is planted at the right place, restoring forests services and contributing to the SDGs.

Sector: IT & Electronic

Country: Germany

Total Revenue: EUR 1.65 million (2020)

Number of employees: 111 (2020)

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Fairphone

Fairphone’s raison d’être is to solve the global issue of electronic waste. It engages with its customers and partners along the supply chain showing the way to a fair electronics industry and future. Consumers can repair their Fairphone products by themselves by replacing every piece individually. The components are sourced ethically and transparently.

Sector: IT & Electronic

Country: Netherlands

Total Revenue: EUR 36 million (2020)

Number of employees: 83 (2020)

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FREITAG

Since its creation in 1993, FREITAG has been creating bags from used truck tarpaulins, following their “think and act in cycles” manifesto. This vision for meaningful consumption and slow fashion is reinforced by the leadership of idealist CEOs. FREITAG products are long-lasting and easy to repair.

Sector: Clothing

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 32 million (2020)

Number of employees: 137 (2020)

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Max Havelaar

Max Havelaar’s producer networks have a powerful role in the governance structure of this Positive Impact Organization striving to improve working conditions for farmers and workers in the food industry. The foundation’s goal is to empower farmers to build a sustainable future for them and the planet.

Sector: Food & Beverage

Country: Netherlands

Total Revenue: EUR 860 million (2020)

Number of employees: n.a.

Read the case study

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Nazava

Nazava enables households to filter their well or tap water without the need to boil it or use electricity, hence reducing human diseases, household costs and greenhouse gas emissions and improving women’s economic conditions in developing countries.

Sector: Manufacturing

Country: Indonesia

Total Revenue: US$ 5.7 million (2020)

Number of employees: 24 (2020)

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Merkur

Merkur finances “profit making enterprises within sustainable production and not-for-profit institutions and associations within cultural and social fields” in a transparent and sustainable way. The organization that is already carbon neutral co-created a "Banking with Values” Alliance and is committed to decrease emissions from its own activities and the ones it finances by 2025.

Sector: Finance

Country: Denmark

Total Revenue: US$26.1 million (2020)

Number of employees: 101 (2020)

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Patagonia

Patagonia’s bold mission is “to save our home planet”. It is one of the oldest and most famous Positive Impact Organizations. It uses cradle-to-cradle materials to reduce its impact and promotes circular consumption to its customers. Repair and upcycling of the products are proposed to reduce global consumption. It commits to carbon neutrality by 2025 with the goal to become carbon positive.

Sector: Clothing

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 1 billion (2019)

Number of employees: 2'444 (2020)

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Ringana

Ringana produces pure, ethic and effective skin care products made with natural ingredients and recycled packaging that can be used with a clear conscience. It strives to conserve resources and preserve a liveable environment by measuring its carbon footprint and reducing and offsetting its emissions while proposing products fair to all its partners.

Sector: Healthcare

Country: Austria

Total Revenue: EUR 130.8 million (2020)

Number of employees: 1'796 (2020)

South Pole

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South Pole believes that “a Net Zero target is a part of every organisation's Climate Journey”. It was founded to advise companies on how to take climate action and create net positive impact. The organization has been certified as B-Corp and commits to take actions on various SDGs and halve its emissions by 2030, aligned with the Science based Target Initiative.

Sector: Finance

Country: Switzerland

Total Revenue: US$ 141.1 million (2020)

Number of employees: 600 (2020)

Sector: Other services

Country: USA

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Terracycle

Terracycle eliminates the waste notion by proposing solutions to recycle the “unrecyclable” products and taking an outside-in perspective to solve the global issue of waste. In collaboration with big retailer brands, the Positive Impact Organization organizes free waste collection and recycling programs.

Sector: Other services

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 92.6 million (2020)

Number of employees: 450 (2020)

Read the case study

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Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go translates a sustainability challenge - food waste - into a business opportunity, by offering shops and restaurants the opportunity to sell leftovers products at a lower price, making it a Positive Impact Organization. In Switzerland, the organization also created a community of brands willing to take actions against food waste, the “Waste Warrior Brands”.

Sector: Food & Beverage

Country: UK

Total Revenue: n.a.

Number of employees: 1'350 (2020)

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United by Blue

The B Corp United by Blue offers sustainably made clothing and accessories for a plastic-free life by removing one pound of trash from the ocean for each product sold and using recycled materials to create their clothes. The organization also organizes community clean-ups in degraded shorelines.

Sector: Clothing

Country: USA

Total Revenue: US$ 2.4 million (2020)

Number of employees: 12 (2020)

What about your organization?

Check how sustainable your organization is:

The Positive Impact Assessment is based on the True Business Sustainability typology (Dyllick-Muff, 2016). The methodology differentiates between "business-as-usual", early sustainability, advanced sustainability and true business sustainability. The four differentiators of Positive Impact Organizations can be achieved with eight innovation strategies. These also serve as a basis to determine the status quo of an organization.  

Answer eight short questions and receive a free assessment of your organization. We guarantee of course an absolute confidentiality of your data.