The concept of corporate social responsibility has evolved in recent decades. Where the concept once explained a company’s commitment to philanthropy and responsible social practices, it now also incorporates its environmental impact, how it governs itself, and how it monitors compliance. Public interest in companies’ holistic environmental, social, and governance – or ESG – strategy is a relatively recent and evolving concept.

At Cintas, we view our entrance into formal ESG reporting and the development of our company-wide ESG strategy as the latest steps in our progression.

That’s because many of the core ESG concepts we now measure and report have been engrained in our company for decades. These foundations are rooted in our corporate culture and in our “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mindset.

Our sustainable business model began almost 100 years ago at the very origin of the company and has continued to evolve in everything we’ve done since. So this development isn’t a drastic leap for us. Rather, it’s a natural evolution of our long-standing business practices.



Our guiding principles are carefully outlined in The Spirit Is The Difference, a book based on the personal insights of our Founder Richard “Dick” Farmer. The publication is referenced frequently by executive leadership and management.

While the idea of an ESG strategy would become popular decades later, the philosophy on which Dick based our company’s management structure was very much ESG-centric. He was ahead of his time.

The Spirit Is The Difference explains how we continually strive to prioritize long-term company value, keep our people involved and central to all our decisions, and operate in an ethical, moral, and compliant manner. These three concepts define ESG and bring our corporate culture into greater focus.

To understand how ESG has been embedded in our company from our beginnings, it helps to understand more about us – and the people behind the company.

cintas founder dick farmer talking to cintas partners

At Cintas, we don’t refer to each other as employees, staff, or colleagues; we refer to each other as partners. The term partner describes the mutual trust and respect we have for each other, and the values and culture responsible for our accomplishments. Considering each other as partners in our collective success is crucial to how we operate, and it’s the foundation of our corporate culture. It’s what makes Cintas so unique and special.

Our unique culture at Cintas is just as essential as our products and services. In fact, it makes all the difference, impacting the quality of the employee-partners we hire; the way we communicate and interact with each other, our customers, and our suppliers; and our world-class performance standards

We credit our success to our corporate culture. It’s the cornerstone of our values, our behaviors, our way of working, and how we approach our business. It’s central to creating and maintaining strong relationships, and a dedication to taking care of one another.

Our culture has three elements: our Principal Objective, our corporate character, and our management system.