Can corporate America do good and still do good business?

The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” according to three corporate leaders who offered examples from their own firms to the audience at a recent Fortune magazine Global Forum.
Legendary denim maker Levi-Strauss has a historic reputation for innovation in caring for employees; it was the first Fortune 500 Company to extend medical benefits to employees’ domestic partners, for example. In recent years, its market share has declined significantly. But when CEO Chip Bergh was brought in with a mandate to revamp and rejuvenate the business in 2011, the Levi Strauss corporate conscience remained in place.

In fact, the company expanded its efforts to improve conditions for workers in factories that supply Levi Strauss from Cambodia, Egypt, Bangladesh and other countries. A pilot program on worker well-being got factory owners to address healthcare and other needs of their workers, most of whom are female. From that pilot program, Levi Strauss has set a goal of having 80 percent of its products made in factories with “worker well-being” programs in place. Next up, says CEO Burgh: working on transforming Levi Strauss work culture from one of underperformance to a “culture of winning performance and accountability.”

Aetna’s do-good-while-doing-business example is the company’s high profile move to raise minimum wages to $16 an hour; some workers got an instant 33 percent raise, and the average increase was 12 percent. That change affected Aetna’s lowest-paid workers, more than 80 percent of whom are women – with many single mothers, some of whom qualified for food stamps. “I’ve never gotten so many hugs and pecks on the cheek—more in last six months than my whole prior career,” said Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini.