Panera Bread has taken corporate social responsibility to a new level. Although the $3 Billion company donates more than $150 Million in food products each year, it wasn’t personal enough. Co-CEO and founder Ron Shaich has recently made it personal by setting up four Panera restaurants as “pay what you can” cafes.
The concept of pay-what-you-can for food is not a new one, but Panera Bread is putting its corporate weight behind the new initiatives, helping to feed people who need a little extra assistance. The company has just opened its fourth “Panera Cares” restaurant in Chicago; the three restaurants already in operation in other states are even turning a profit, which the company gives to social service organizations that provide job training for at-risk youth. Taking it one step further, the company then hires the youths to work at its restaurants. (The Panera Cares stores work under a Panera Bread Foundation initiative, allowing them to not worry about profitability.)
Pay-what-you-can initiatives are quite simple. At the counter, the menu lists “suggested donation.” Customers can pay the suggested rate, pay more, or pay less – all without any judgment or pressure. There isn’t even a cash register – just a donation box. In a presentation to Sustainable Brands, CEO Shaich said that about 20% of the customers leave more money than the suggested donation, 60% pay the suggested donation amount, and 20% pay less.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- There are several videos which can be used to illustrate this case. http://youtu.be/XDhDeItnmlI (CEO presentation at Sustainable Brands, 20 min.) and http://youtu.be/Nr6ictr_ABs (CBS news video, 3 min.)
- Ask students who has ever served in a food pantry or soup kitchen. What was their experience?
- Slides about the Panera Cares project are available at http://www.sustainablebrands.com/digital_learning/slideshow/innovating-philanthropy-paneras-pay-what-you-can-stores
- Discuss the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with students. Ask what they think it means and how companies implement CSR.
- What should corporate responsibility be to society? Should they address societal problems? How can corporations address societal problems?
- Have students review the Panera Cares Web site: http://paneracares.org/
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a company to examine its CSR policies (check companies Web sites).
- Next, have each team select another company and design a CSR program for that company. What are the considerations to evaluate for the CSR programs?
Source: Brandchannel.com, 6/22/12, CBS News