Is Costco Ethical (Socially Responsible, Ethics Code, Kirkland, Clothing, Wages + More)

Due to the large impact leading retailers to have on the environment, consumers increasingly demand that they act ethically, socially responsibly, and in environmentally-friendly ways.

Since Costco is a popular retailer with millions of customers around the world, you may be wondering – is Costco ethical? Here is what I’ve found out through my research!

Is Costco Ethical?

Costco has been publicly branded as a great example of an ethical corporation, which environmentally conscious consumers should choose to shop at. This is due to its ethics code which highlights the importance of staff treatment, sustainability, and responsibility.

If you want to learn more about Costco’s code of ethics, how Costco treats its employees, whether the Kirkland brand is cruelty-free, and much more, keep on reading!

Is Costco Socially Responsible?

Costco is generally regarded as a socially responsible store due to its great attention to customers, stakeholders, and local communities.

Costco practices sustainable sourcing of its items and offers discounts and rewards to customers for non-Costco-related events such as sports and music events.

Costco is also well known for treating its staff fairly compared to its competitor stores such as Walmart and Target.

It offers higher-than-average wages and additional staff benefits like health insurance programs and loyalty reward schemes.

Does Costco Treat Its Suppliers Ethically?

Costco makes sure that it treats its suppliers fairly and ethically by partnering with a fresh produce multi-stakeholder effort.

This effort ensures that all suppliers, including farmers and smaller independent businesses, are not only treated fairly by Costco but that the suppliers treat their own staff ethically as well.

As part of this effort, businesses are required to employ labor safety standards and ensure that all work is in accordance with labor certifications, such as Integrated Pest Management.

What Is Costco’s Code Of Ethics?

At Costco, staff and members have to adhere to the following code of ethics to remain a part of the Costco organization:

  • Obey the law
  • Take care of our members
  • Take care of our employees
  • Respect our suppliers

What Is Costco’s Code Of Conduct For Suppliers?

Costco’s code of conduct for suppliers is as follows:

  • Adhere to set levels of supplier diversity
  • Be anti-human trafficking
  • Be anti-abuse of workers
  • Uphold safety labor standards
  • Uphold food safety standards

Why Does Costco Have A Code Of Ethics?

Why Does Costco Have A Code Of Ethics?

Costco has a code of ethics that is outlined to all its employees and maintains that staff should seek to carry out all tasks to the highest standards in a responsible and ethical manner.

Through these principles, Costco staff are trained to do ‘the right thing’ to build their confidence and self-esteem.

The retailer believes that a positive sense of self will reflect how staff carries out their tasks around the store, aiding the business’s success.

How Does Costco Treat Its Employees?

Costco is known to treat its employees well with fair treatment, a healthy amount of holiday time, and better-than-average pay.

In an interview with Retail Leader, an old Costco employee described the benefits and perks of being a member of staff at Costco as “second to none.”

Additionally, compared to similar stores, Costco pays its staff very well.

On average, Costco pays staff around 56% more than Walmart, and Costco also provides health insurance programs for interested staff members.

What Are Staff Wages Like At Costco?

Costco provides staff with a promising and satisfying wage that is, on average higher than the staff wages supplied by its competitors, such as Target and Walmart.

According to data supplied by past employees, Costco pays an average wage of $17 per hour.

Note that staff wages may also depend on job title, hours, as well as store size, and location.

Is The Kirkland Brand Cruelty-Free?

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s in-house brand that sells a huge variety of high-quality products at low prices, such as coffee, bacon, clothing, vegetables, and much more.

The brand has not been awarded any certificates or labels outlining that it is a cruelty-free company; however, it does sell some vegan and cruelty-free products.

How Environmentally Sustainable Is Costco?

Recently, Costco has rated an S&P Global ESG Score of 16 out of 100 in the ‘S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment.’

This shows that not all criteria were met and that Costco can do more in terms of employing sustainable practices in its business.

Despite this, Costco seeks to source its products ethically, only using certified locations and forests and actively replenishing some of its items.

What Are Costco’s Stewardship Goals?

Costco’s stewardship goals are as follows:

  • Avoid contributing to deforestation
  • Contribute to the conservation effort for naturally occurring ecosystems
  • Contribute to the restoration of natural ecosystems
  • Protect high conservation value forests
  • Protect high carbon stock forests
  • Make sure that one has the prior and informed consent of any surrounding indigenous people without the use of intimidation or pressure
  • Avoid all unnecessary pollution
  • Uphold basic human rights

What Has Costco Done To Help Fight The Climate Crisis?

Costco has contributed to the fight against the ongoing climate crisis by investing large sums of money in research.

Along with that, it has also focused on changing the way it sources goods and ingredients that are used in its products.

Specifically, Costco has performed the following actions to date:

  • Invested nearly $6 million towards replacing destroyed natural forage as well as the research of honey bees
  • Invested money into Project Apis m. in Canada and the United States to engage with the best and latest ethical practices available
  • Changed how it sources a large number of ingredients that are used in its products, such as beef, cocoa, soy, and palm oil

Now that you know about Costco, you can also read our related posts on Costco’s target market, if Costco is unionized, and some interesting Costco facts.


Costco is highly regarded as an ethical store due to its great and fair treatment of its staff and its willingness to be held accountable for social responsibility.

The retailer has donated large sums of money to environmental sustainability and protection efforts such as replenishing natural resources like natural forage.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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