Toms shoes gives away shoes
To kids in need everywhere
But what happens next?
For Paper 2 I have chosen to analyze the ethical implications of TOMS Shoes’ one-for-one business model. This topic interests me because many people would assume that the philanthropic and socially responsible nature of the company means that they are behaving ethically. However, TOMS Shoes has been under some harsh criticism recently and after doing some research I came across a New York Times article called Questioning the TOMS Shoes Model for Social Enterprise which explores some of these issues.
The basic premise of the TOMS Shoes business model is that for every pair of shoes sold, the company donates another pair to a child in need. This sets TOMS apart from other philanthropic organizations because it is a for-profit company, based in business principles, that gives back without relying on donations.
As the article and other critics have pointed out, it is difficult to criticize a company which has done so much to help children in need, but many are beginning to question whether TOMS is really doing anything to solve the underlying issue of poverty. In fact, the business model that TOMS has created actually relies on the existence of poverty in order to be successful. Without poverty and children who need shoes, TOMS would not be able to sell its product and make money.
Many argue that in order for TOMS to be a truly ethical and socially responsible organization, they should make efforts to solve the issue of poverty in these developing countries. Shoes will soon be worn out or grown out of and do not provide a long term solution. I will evaluate this ethical question from a utilitarian perspective, evaluating how TOMS one-for-one business model of giving away shoes does not necessarily maximize the long term well-being of children in need.