Social Responsibility and What Groups Do It Well

social responsibility

In today’s evolving global marketplace, companies throughout the automotive industry are seeking proactive solutions to social problems in an effort to add purpose and value to their brand. Connecting long-term strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to a brand’s DNA creates shared value for the business and society. While many companies are taking proactive measures to address local social and environmental issues, some have risen above the rest by taking a holistic approach and positioning themselves as a powerful force for change. These are the automotive companies with the best CSR reputations in 2018.


No one understands the growing role corporate social responsibility plays in brand image, credibility and employee satisfaction better than Subaru. The American subsidiary of the Japanese car manufacturer, Subaru of America, Inc., has, for example, showed its ongoing commitment to local communities and customers through their Subaru Love Promise campaign, which saw the company donate $250 for every car purchased or leased to a charity of the purchaser’s choice. Over the past decade, the initiative has raised over $120 million for charities such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Meals on Wheels, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and National Park Foundation. Employees of the American subsidiary have also logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours for projects as varied as building Habitat for Humanity homes, assembling wheelchairs or filling backpacks for underprivileged school children.  


Named one of the world’s most ethical companies for eight straight years by the Ethisphere Institute, Ford Motor Co. has secured this honor due to its ongoing commitment to ethical practices, governance and corporate citizenship. Strong ethics have been the backbone of the American car manufacturer since 1949, when it launched its philanthropic, non-profit Ford Motor Company Fund championing sustainable and scalable programs that address local needs and pressing societal issues. Amongst the dozens of strategic initiatives are education-focused programs (such as Ford Next Generation Learning and Powered by Ford STEAM Academies), community projects (like building tiny homes in Detroit or launching mobile food pantries in hard-to-reach places) and female empowerment programs, including Ford EmpowerHER, which supports innovative business ideas of women social entrepreneurs. One of their newest initiatives is The Ford Resource and Engagement Center, which bolsters educational opportunities, job trainings and economic opportunities in underserved neighborhoods in Detroit and South Africa with plans to open more across Europe.


German carmaker BMW is committed to creating sustainable mobility throughout its vehicle’s lifecycle starting with its suppliers and continuing throughout production. As part of the company’s holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions, 100 percent of the electricity purchased by the BMW Group in Europe came from renewable energy sources in 2017. To expand its role in procuring relevant raw materials for electro mobility, the company opened a battery farm in Leipzig, Germany and increased the transparency of its cobalt supply chain. The recently published BMW Group Sustainable Value Report (SVR) 2017 highlights the carmaker’s current and future CSR efforts and emphasizes that sustainability means future viability.


While Jaguar Land Rover has made commitments to only producing electric vehicles starting from 2020, it has already made significant impact on communities around the world with local initiatives and activities that help move the needle in solving urgent needs. In the US, for example, Jaguar Land Rover North America supports children’s education through partnerships with Children’s Health Fund and P.S. Arts. Partnering with the International Federation of Red Cross Society, Jaguar Land Rover has provided practical, day-to-day help for the elderly in the UK, while in Uganda, it help bring awareness to ongoing sustainable water and sanitation projects.


Forging a path to a greener and more sustainable future is at the core of Tesla, the California-based automotive company that manufactures and sells zero-emission electric vehicles. By aiming to alleviate the world’s fossil fuel dependency, Tesla’s founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk is shaking up a long-established industry and promoting sustainable energy solutions on a global scale. And while questions swirl around the hype-worthy benefits and high front-end greenhouse-gas-emissions footprint of manufacturing such electric cars, the industry is unquestionably on the cusp of a paradigm shift and Tesla is taking steps towards a greener future.


The Village Automotive Group, a Boston area Audi dealership, has taken a five-tier approach to social responsibility, actively exhibiting ethical business practices towards their customers and employees as well as a taking active part in community-focused causes.

Gulf States Toyota, a Houston-based distributor of Toyota vehicles run by Dan Friedkin, follows suit on Toyota’s award-winning CSR efforts by regularly supporting victims of natural disasters in areas it operates in.

Hyundai Motor America dealerships across the US take part in Hyundai Hope on Wheels program, one of the largest non-profit funders of pediatric cancer research in the country. More locally, California-based Hyundai dealerships banded together in 2017 to donate $50,000 to Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.