Smile…Pass it on! Sanuk Footwear


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My favorite brand is Sanuk Footwear, the company that makes the most comfortable shoes (in my opinion) and that is best known for their yoga mat sandals and sidewalk surfers. Besides the fact that they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, I respect Sanuk as a company because they support the environment as well as the global community. Their link to information about their social responisbility is to frolicEarth’s Eco & Socially Responsible Business Directory,  which explains Sanuk’s R.A.S.T.A Project. The R.A.S.T.A (Recycled and Sustainable Trade Alliance) Project aims to reduce environmental impacts by providing impact free men’s and women’s footwear in which the outsoles are made from recycled tires found near factories in China and all materials are purchased locally, including jute, hemp, latex, cork, and recycled plastic bottles; additionally, R.A.S.T.A. products are shipped in biodegradable bags made from corn. And even if you don’t buy a R.A.S.T.A. shoe, the majority of Sanuk’s products are vegan or vegetarian. The video below explains Sanuk as a brand–skip to 2:31 if you only want to hear about the social responsibility, but it’s a really cool video and I encourage you to watch the whole thing.

In Nicole’s post, she explains that Patagonia founded a program called “1% of the Planet”, an program that Sanuk participates in as well. Additionally, Sanuk is a partner with Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity that provides free reconstructive surgery for children born with cleft lips and cleft palates.

“The collaboration kicked off in May when a team of employees and surfers from Sanuk traveled to Peru to participate in one of Operation Smile’s medical missions. Sanuk surfers Matt Meola, Torrey Meister and Alek Parker volunteered on the eight day mission, quickly becoming popular with the local families, doctors, and Operation Smile medical volunteers. In addition to entertaining the children and handing out stickers and free t-shirts, the Sanuk team was invited into the operating room to witness the surgeries and assist in moving patients from surgery beds to recovery rooms. Meola, Meister and Parker also took a few days off to surf with local Sanuk team rider Tamil Martino, a world renowned longboarding surfer.”

While you may not have heard of Sanuks, Deckers (the parent company), is also the parent company of Uggs and Tevas, as well as several other brands. The company’s Corporate Responisbility page says “We believe in good business, the kind that helps our community and our environment and inspires the younger generation”; I really respect this statement because it indicates that Deckers aims to do more than what is “required” or “expected”. I’ll leave you with a note from the CEO, Angel Martinez, discussing Decker’s acknowledgment that nature must always be respected.

At Deckers, we know our consumers are not only interested in our unique product offerings they also care about how and under what conditions our products are made. In fact, the way we operate our business is as important to our long-term success as the innovative products we bring to market. To guide us in our daily decision-making, we routinely examine the impact of our operations with respect and admiration for the people and resources that underpin our success.

Not only do we design, market and distribute our products with respect for our natural resources we also partner with our manufacturers and suppliers to ensure fair, safe and healthy workplaces. Wherever possible, we use sustainable materials and processes to conserve resources. In addition, we measure and monitor the progress of our strategic partners and incorporate environmental innovations in our decision-making.

The result of these efforts displays our deep commitment to the environment, to human rights and to corporate responsibility. The process is never over, and our work does not end. We continue to seek better ways to promote environmental responsibility, to encourage environmentally friendly technologies and to respect internationally recognized human rights.

Angel Martinez
President, CEO and Chairman of the Board
Deckers Outdoor Corporation

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3 responses to “Smile…Pass it on! Sanuk Footwear

  1. Although I am not very familiar with the Sanuk brand, it is encouraging to hear they have joined the growing corporate social responsibility movement. As we explored in our class discussions about Nike, apparel and footwear companies often get negative attention for their exploitation of cheap labor and unethical labor practices. It seems though, that many of these companies have responded with increased CSR efforts. I wonder, however, if it makes a difference whether a firm’s CSR is well integrated into is organizational structure or is simply a tangential objective to its core business strategy. Which best represents the way in which Sanuk positions its CSR? Is one better than the other? Does it matter?

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    • You bring up an interesting proposition. Does it matter if a company explicitly states its CSR as an integral part of its business? Some companies care more than others in regards to socially responsible actions, but are the ones who only do a little bit slacking? I would argue that they are not. Even a little bit of responsibility is better than no responsibility at all.

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  2. I don’t think that CSR can be separate from business strategy to truly make a lasting impact. When companies like Sanuk are able to make a high quality and high demand products like they do while staying true to their core purpose, they are creating value that is going to last. It shows that their company didn’t begin to think about CSR as a reaction to negative press. This is something that all stakeholders can be proud of.

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