March 21, 2007
Honest Tea
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

I must say that some of the stories in the airplane magazines are quite fascinating. On the plane ride to California, I read about Honest Tea, a company that produces all-natural teas and strives to create “healthy and honest relationships with its customers, suppliers and the environment.” According to the story, Seth Goldman, the company’s founder, initially avoided both business school and for-profit companies because he believed that for-profits could not satisfy his desire to do good. However, while in business school he realized that even for-profit companies could promote admirable goals. In fact, recent studies have indicated not only that business school students increasingly have gravitated towards student organizations that meld profit and social good, but also that such students, at least in surveys, are willing to forego financial rewards to work for companies with strong social responsibility reputations.

With such a perspective, Seth founded Honest Tea and has sought to maintain his commitment to social responsibility by creating relationships with the communities in which his products are sold as well as the communities in which his products are made. To this end, Honest Tea has partnered with the Crow community to help them develop the ability to harvest peppermint growing on their reservation to be used in teas. The result, “First Nation Peppermint” reflects a product that embodies the company’s desire to build business relationships with economically disadvantaged communities. And according to the story, the company is doing well financially. I always enjoy stories that reinforce the notion that making money does not prevent doing good and making a positive impact. If more people went into the business arena with such a belief, then we will continue to have companies that seek to do both.

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