4 Private Companies Capitalizing on Corporate Ethics in the Millennial Age

Research suggests that Millennials will overtake Boomers as the largest living generation in 2019, surpassing them by around 1 million people as Millennial numbers swell and Boomers decline.

The group widely criticized for low wages, participation trophies, debt, and safe spaces, is developing a reputation for something else. Researchers are noticing what’s significant about this group is a dedication to corporate ethics and values.

Penetrating the Millennial market by creating an authentic culture of compassionate, ethical practice is a trend likely to stay. Coincidentally, startups adopting a strong stance on corporate ethics can also attract impact investors.

But technology and ethics, don’t always go hand-in-hand. One only has to think about the ongoing debate over corporate ethics and AI for an example of the challenges ethical businesses face when they adopt new technology.

Here are four private companies that are redefining how we think about corporate ethics in a changing marketplace.

Four Companies Redefining Corporate Ethics

1. Diamond Foundry

Man-made diamonds offer a more affordable option for Millennials who tend to practice conservative shopping habits. But there’s no greater example of a truly value-based startup than Diamond Foundry. Founded in 2012, Diamond Foundry has raised $100 million to date.

It’s not lost on Diamond Foundry that they appeal to Millennials, stating in their own blog, “American diamonds are the ultimate choice in terms of the values of American Millennials — and the best value in diamonds because there are no markups on middlemen and no foreign cartels are involved.”

Corporate Ethics: Diamond Foundry CTO and Co-Founder Jeremy Scholz

Photo Credit: Wired (www.wired.co.uk)

In a recent news release, the organization touted that they’ve refined the process to completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, stating they now have zero carbon footprint. But the startup has also extended its reach beyond the confines of its US-based foundry.

In an open letter to African nations, Diamond Foundry offers strategic partnerships that would open facilities in those countries helping to offset the impact of man-made diamonds on their local economies.

2. VirtualHealth

VirtualHealth made news in 2018, offering a platform to increase the success of value-based healthcare. “Value-based healthcare” means care should be judged and measured based on the quality of services rendered.

The current healthcare ecosystem offers high compensation for practitioners regardless of quality, high premiums and coverage decreasing. While Americans pay more expense per capita than people in the UK, Canada or France — we have the lowest life expectancy of the nations listed.

It’s not surprising then, according to Fortune, Millennials are “less likely to trust physicians and far more inclined to consult online experts”. Re-engaging Millennial shoppers to the current healthcare system means leveraging technology that establishes transparency and trust.

Adam Sabloff, CEO of VirtualHealth, says the company’s SaaS platform, “allows healthcare organizations to achieve enhanced outcomes while maximizing efficiency, improving transparency, and lowering costs”. Technology that reduces the cost of healthcare services while increasing quality for patients is one way to appeal to ethics.

3. Semper Solaris

Semper Solaris is a California based private company specializing in cutting-edge solar technology for the home.

In addition to a commitment to clean energy, the company puts corporate ethics at the center of their business model by hiring and supporting veterans in their day-to-day operations. This has given Semper Solaris an advantage over the competition by making headlines that might appeal to Millennials and others who care about companies that adhere to strict values.

For example, in a recent press release, the company unveiled over $75,000 in donated residential solar services and equipment used to improve the roof of a local veteran as a kind gesture for Independence Day.

The $85 million company only has two major competitors for its market sector. A 2018 initiative requires all houses in California to be compliant with solar energy by 2020. There’s never been a more opportune time for corporate ethics to set them apart from the competition.

4. Eternime

In an age where private companies think chatbots and SMS marketing campaigns are cutting-edge ways to use AI, Eternime is playing at a whole different level. The company specializes in artificial intelligence that offers users a taste of eternal life.

Eternime’s premise is simple. Allow family members to talk to their cherished relatives who passed away. In this case, “the dead” are digital avatars that look and sound like someone who was once alive.

Corporate Ethics: Eternime Founder Marius Ursache

Photo Credit: Advance Queensland, Medium (https://medium.com/advance-queensland/)

Eternime is in early rounds of funding, but unlike the other startups on this list most of their funding stems from a grant of $100,000. The money comes from HotDesQ. It was determined from over a dozen applicants “due to a natural alignment of their creative-tech business models.”

Eternime’s existence is an ethical gray area. To keep the service from turning into an episode of the Netflix hit show Black Mirror, the question of corporate ethics and responsibility must be addressed. According to co-founder, Marius Ursache, it’s a notion he takes seriously. He says he plans to hire a psychologist to help work out potential issues once the infrastructure is complete.

A Positive Impact

In a Forbes report by Beth Ann Bovino, chief economist at Standard & Poor, it’s estimated that by 2020, Millennial purchases will make up 30% of all retail sales. This generation of conservative spenders makes up the largest cohort of active American workers today.

Within 5 years, it’s predicted that Millennials could come out of their shell of fiscal security. That could mean more big-ticket purchases if the economy continues to flourish. This could serve as a much-needed stimulus package for the American economy.

The companies discussed above represent a widely diverse sample of private businesses using corporate ethics to make a positive impact. For now, the full influence of this trend on young shoppers is a mystery.

Lastly, it’s clear private companies must change how they do business if they are going to appeal to Millennial shoppers. Taking a hard stance on corporate ethics is a good start from both a funding standpoint and a consumer one.

Here’s a full list of the world’s most ethical companies.

Susan is a writer, contributor and content marketer who publishes her own blog, Marketing and Murder. Susan’s greatest successes include a fruitful 10+ year career in marketing and outside sales, as well as a master’s degree in a liberal arts field and just being Mom to her young daughter.

  • Originally published July 19, 2018, updated April 26, 2023