When a big company gains enough momentum that its direction becomes self-sustaining, its influence can ripple through society -- for better or worse. Whether it's the environment being polluted with reckless abandon or CEOs lining their pockets at the expense of employees, shareholders, and consumers, recent headlines show plenty of evidence of capitalism at its worst.
But there are also companies that are doing right -- and all too often they are overshadowed by their less-conscientious peers.
Call it conscious capitalism or just good business, but the following five companies have all prospered in every measure over the last decade -- and have done so by doing good for their employees, suppliers, customers or the general public.
Motley Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Costco, Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by TMFStoffel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Costco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Walmart, Nucor, Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods, as well as writing covered calls on Starbucks and creating a diagonal call position in Walmart.