Are Corporate Gifts Sustainable? Build ESG into Client Relationships


Leeatt RothschildCEO of Packed with Purpose

Friday, April 22, 2022

Corporate gift-giving is an exercise in empathy. You’re reaching out to solidify the connection between yourself and your recipient, communicating your gratitude while facilitating the long-term growth of your relationship. But why should that empathy begin and end after a gift has exchanged hands?

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Are Corporate Gifts Sustainable? Build ESG into Client Relationships
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In recent years, consumers have zeroed in on corporate practices. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, between 76 and 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from and work for companies that stand up for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they’re willing to pay extra for products and services that contribute to positive change.

People want to know that their gift won’t create unnecessary waste or take money away from smaller businesses that don’t have access to the resources of nearby big-box chains. Instead, give your recipient peace of mind by infusing the entire gifting process — from manufacturing to packaging — with ethical ESG values and practices.

Cultivating socially-conscious vendors

Ethical and sustainable corporate gifting starts with choosing the right vendors for the job. Funneling revenue and market visibility to purpose-driven, diverse-owned companies is the first step towards ensuring sustainability.

Before the first gift’s bow has been tied, decide which ESG-based impact areas you’d like to focus on. From workforce development to empowering women, there’s no shortage of pathways that your potential partnership can take.

You can also maximize your impact by looking for business partners that operate at the intersection of multiple impact areas; opportunities for sustainability and wellness-focused products, for example, can compound your gift’s impact by promoting wellbeing at a macro and micro level simultaneously. Always be on the lookout for ways to promote physical, mental, and environmental health in one convenient package.

Looking for more formalized measures of a vendor’s proposed ESG impact? Make an effort to seek out companies that have built authentic, meaningful ESG values into their DNA through certified industrial standards. B-Corp and 1% for the Planet certifications can help you identify vendors that have made a firm commitment to honor their ESG values through ambitious sustainability initiatives and responsible sourcing, so keep an eye out for certifications that align with your own ESG priorities.

Choosing the right gift purveyors isn’t a task to be taken lightly. During times of great economic uncertainty, your patronage can mean the difference between a small business’ success or failure.

Remember that every gift purchase serves to amplify a vendor’s mission and reinforce the gift-giving experience as an exercise in thoughtful, impactful, and responsible product engagement. Sustainable gifts from socially-conscious purveyors can be a personal, tangible way to show your employees and clients your appreciation while honoring your social and governance values.

But landing on a vendor is only the first step in putting your ESG values into practice. How can you be sure your gift doesn’t expand your environmental footprint?

Sustainable packaging and circumventing waste

As online retailers have seen a massive uptick in sales throughout the pandemic, responsible packaging and recycling practices have struggled to catch up. Amazon alone created 599 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2020, or “the equivalent of dumping a delivery van payload of plastic into the oceans every 67 minutes,” according to a report by Oceana.

Commit to becoming part of the solution by working with partners that infuse their products with sustainable practices and materials every step of the way.

Packaging made from recycled or compostable materials has grown in popularity in recent years, with consumers and shareholders alike demanding that companies do more to shrink their packaging waste. Note that sustainable packaging can mean a multitude of different things here; if recyclable or compostable solutions aren’t a feasible option, shrinking or streamlining existing packaging designs to reduce waste can be the next best thing.

State and federal governing bodies have also taken legislative steps to remove toxins and microplastics from packaging materials, pushing more and more companies in a safe and sustainable direction as brands work to normalize ESG trends and react to appeals from consumers. Seek out corporate gift vendors that have positioned themselves ahead of the packaging curve and want to capitalize on opportunities to build upon their ESG principles.

Delivering a sustainable smile

Sustainable supply chains, recyclable packaging and memorable, impactful gifts can sound like a high barrier for entry to responsible corporate gifting. Why should you go through the trouble of ordering an eco-friendly gift box when a gift card would do just fine?

In short, because there’s nothing quite like unwrapping a surprise gift. The tactile experience of opening a present is integral to our shared sociology and cultures, framing every package as a personalized offering to the recipient, prepared and presented to an audience of one.

Digital goods and in-store credit can do under short notice, but if you’re in the market for a thoughtful, purposeful gift for any occasion, you’ll need to keep things physical. Whether you’re helping employees ring in the holiday season or letting clients know how much you appreciate their business, look for environmentally and socially-conscious ways to make every gift unboxing a guilt-free, heartfelt experience for everyone involved.

Responsible corporate gifting is so much more than the latest eco-friendly buzzword: it means demonstrating goodwill on a personal and global scale with every delivered gift. 

Leeatt Rothschild

CEO of Packed with Purpose

Leeatt Rothschild is the founder and CEO of Packed with Purpose, a corporate gifting company that creates deep societal impact through the everyday act of gift-giving, from empowering underserved women with job skills to supporting sustainability efforts. Packed with Purpose gifts enable companies from Fortune 500 to nonprofit organizations to create social impact while positively influencing their business across employees, clients and other key stakeholders.


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