Breaking the cycle of poverty requires addressing the root causes of poverty and providing individuals and communities with the resources they need to build better lives. One of the most effective ways to do this is by creating sustainable jobs that provide stable employment opportunities and access to the resources needed to build assets and provide for families.

According to economist Joseph Stiglitz, “Job creation is the key to ending poverty.” This sentiment is echoed by many other economists, who have found that sustainable employment opportunities are a critical factor in reducing poverty, inequality and creating a more equitable society, as well as promoting economic growth.

Corporate examples of sustainable job creation are numerous, and showcase the ways that businesses can be a powerful force for good in the world. Here are six examples of corporations from local businesses to multinational corporations taking steps to create sustainable jobs and promote poverty reduction.

  1. Starbucks: In 2018, Starbucks committed to creating 250,000 new jobs globally by 2025. The company is focused on creating sustainable employment opportunities in communities where it operates, and has established programs such as the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which provides employees with access to a college education.
  2. Patagonia: Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company, is known for its commitment to sustainability and has implemented programs such as Fair Trade Certified™ and Bluesign® to ensure that its products are made in ethical and environmentally responsible ways. In addition to its environmental initiatives, Patagonia has also created sustainable jobs by establishing its own supply chain and sourcing materials from responsible suppliers. As economist Jeffrey Sachs notes, “Patagonia has shown that sustainable and fair business practices can lead to success in the marketplace.”
  3. Greyston Bakery: Greyston Bakery, a social enterprise based in Yonkers, New York, provides job training and employment to individuals facing barriers to employment, such as homelessness and criminal records. The bakery uses an open hiring model, which means that it hires individuals without conducting background checks or requiring resumes or interviews. This model has been successful in providing employment opportunities to those who may have difficulty finding work elsewhere. Muhammad Yunus has praised Greyston Bakery for its innovative approach to poverty reduction.
  4. Unilever: Unilever, the global consumer goods company, has made a commitment to creating sustainable jobs through its Sustainable Living Plan. The plan includes a goal of creating 100,000 jobs through the company’s value chain by 2020. Unilever is also focused on providing training and education to its employees to help them develop the skills needed for sustainable employment.
  5. Danone: Danone, the multinational food and beverage company, has implemented a program called “Danone Communities” that aims to create sustainable employment opportunities in low-income communities around the world. The program has already created over 20,000 jobs, and aims to create an additional 10,000 jobs by 2030. . Economist Joseph Stiglitz has applauded Danone for its efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
  6. Seventh Generation: This household products company has a strong commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. In addition to using environmentally friendly materials and reducing waste, Seventh Generation invests in its workforce by offering fair wages and benefits. Economist Joseph Stiglitz has noted the importance of investing in human capital in order to promote economic growth and reduce poverty.

By investing in their workforce and supporting the communities in which they operate, businesses can play a critical role in breaking the cycle of poverty. Sustainable jobs are those that are resilient to economic shocks, provide fair wages and benefits, and offer opportunities for workers to develop their skills and advance in their careers. They are also jobs that have a positive impact on the environment and contribute to the sustainable development of communities.  As economist Amartya Sen has noted, “The ultimate goal of economic development is to enhance human freedom and capabilities” and creating sustainable jobs is a critical step towards achieving that goal.

The Center on Business and Poverty

Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash