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The Nominations Are In, Pick the TOP Sustainable CEO

Bill Roth | Wednesday January 20th, 2010 | 41 Comments

Ed Note: Voting is now closed. We’ll tally things up and have a wrap up post for you mid-day Monday.

Earlier this month, we ran a post in which we asked you to nominate the CEOs who are doing the most to advance principals of sustainability in their companies.
And nominate you did–we received more than 50 nominations via comments to the post and many more through Twitter and other means. The men and women you suggested represent a great breadth of organizations, from huge companies to small firms that are pioneers in sustainability, to early stage entrepreneurial enterprises. The shear number of nominees is encouraging, and they’re all examples of how leadership is advancing the business of sustainability. I consider these nominations to be proof that a Green Economic Revolution is occurring, and that it is building a path for the restoration of our jobs, economy and environment.

I was also struck by the diversity of comments regarding the criteria for nominating a sustainable CEO. In my article about sustainable CEOs I quoted Andy Price, a managing partner at the energy and technology executive search firm Schweichler Price & Partners, on his perspective that the adoption of sustainable business practices are driven by the opportunities they create for growing revenues. But many nominations were testimonials to a CEO’s ability to deliver value that is measured both through reduced emissions and increased profits.

The depth and quality of nominations and comments enriched the criteria for evaluating a CEO’s performance beyond emissions and dollars. There were meaningful discussions on the value created by the CEOs who pioneered best practices in sustainability–and how their messaging generated value, and not just for immediate stakeholders. Such examples included Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Jeff Swartz of Timberland, Ray Anderson of Interface Carpet and Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation.

And then there were nominations based on the CEOs who achieved results through a strategic focus on sustainability, wellness, associate engagement, supply chain participation and customer outreach. Examples included Lee Scott of Walmart (who served as CEO from 2000 until early last year), Eric Schmidt of Google and Brian Walker of Herman Miller.

Nominations also represented the globalization of sustainability, with nominees such as Fuji Cho and Katsuaki Watanabe, Chairman and former CEO of Toyota, respectively, and Jose Manuel Entrecanales of Acciona, a Spanish company that is a wind power leader.

Finally, there were examples of our wonderful “outside the box” entrepreneurs with nominations that included George Siemon of Organic Valley, Jan Blittersdorf, CEO of NRG Systems, Inc, which manufacturers wind measurement systems and BethAnn Lederer of Working Wonders, a sustainable home products company.

Comments also surfaced on the Greenwashing question I posted in the Triple Pundit article Greenwashing, The Two Edge Sword. Some comments applauded CEOs who have led their companies to achieve measurable results or product innovations while others questioned such nominations because the CEO’s company still had not achieved its sustainability potential.

The insights absorbed from this process begs this question: Upon what basis should a top CEO be crowned?

Rather than suggest a path, we again turn to the voting/comment process. Please review this ballot and submit a vote for up to 10 CEOs who you feel are worthy of being called “Sustainable CEOs.” Use your own definition of that term, or better yet, leave your definition in the comments, along with anything else you have to say about the concepts we’re working with.

Finally, bear in mind there’s nothing scientific about this polling and the “ranking” aspect of it is really just for fun. We welcome additional nominations in the comments for future follow-ups and hope to interview each and every one of the CEOs on our list in the near future as part of our ongoing leadership series. In a few cases, we’ve posted former CEOs and folks with a slightly different position. If you don’t know who someone is, why not do a bit of searching on his or her name so you can judge more thoroughly.

So vote, comment, tweet and by doing so, advance awareness on how sustainable CEOs are creating stockholder value, stakeholder benefits and environmental/human wellness.

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[poll id=”4″]

Ed Note: Voting is now closed. We’ll tally things up and have a wrap up post for you mid-day Monday.


▼▼▼      41 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • deborahdemoulpied

    where's Gary Hirshberg from Stonyfield Yogurt? one of the top for sure. Maybe you can add him.

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      Thanks Deborah for bringing Gary to our attention. Can you tell us more about Gary and Stonyfield Yogurt

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Mickle/1237310 Ryan Mickle

        I definitely agree. Hirshberg is a climate change activist trapped in a CEO's body. His pet project, Climatecounts.org is dedicated to rating and improving the climate impacts of the largest brands, as an effort to encourage businesses far bigger than Stonyfield's to cut their footprint.

        I wrote about Hirshberg a while back… http://www.triplepundit.com/2008/05/what-is-res

      • deborahdemoulpied

        here you go:

        http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Hirshberg

        said better than I could say. He transformed the food industry.
        Thanks<Debby

        Real Green Goods
        35 South Main St.
        Concord, NH 03301
        16032249700
        18777449744
        http://www.realgreengoods.com

        • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

          Thanks Deborah for the links. Hirshberg is my kind of business person, seeing business as an enabling positive force and a source of solutions. A great example of a sustainable CEO!

        • deborahdemoulpied

          Thanks! His book Stirring It Up is a must read – inspirational and every business 101 major should have to read it.
          Cheers,
          Debby

          Real Green Goods
          35 South Main St.
          Concord, NH 03301
          16032249700
          18777449744
          http://www.realgreengoods.com

    • http://www.ChristinaChambreau.com/ Christina Chambreau

      Also Larry Bohlen of NaturalCheck.com -he's great.

  • Mike

    Kevin Surace of Serious Materials should be on the list as well….

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      Asolutely. Good nomination Mike. Serious Materials is leading the way in developing green building supplies.

  • Jillian

    Roger Barnett – CEO of Shaklee Corporation should DEFINITELY be on this list. I wish I would have caught the post when I could have nominated him!

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      Thanks Jillian for Roger's nomination. I have been to Shaklee's HQ building and they definitely are walking the talk in adopting sustainability into their work environment.

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  • anna

    Adam Lowry co-founder of method (http://www.methodhome.com) should be on this list too!

  • Viola Waugh

    George Siemon is definitely the BEST. Best with business, customers, employes, family, values,
    morals and just plain old fashioned Niceness.
    Remember “ORGANIC VALLEY” . They will even Ship to your Home. Just give them a call, or
    e-mail them. I love it all !

  • http://www.ChristinaChambreau.com/ Dr. Chambreau

    Thrilled that Beth Ann Lederer of WorkingWondersUS is on this list. She is an awesome, inovative, forward thinking entrepreneur.

  • coyote37

    I'm so glad to see workingwonders on this list. It's a great green company.

  • Mark and Carol Weinfeld

    Wow. What a great list of individuals. How impressive to see our friends at Working Wonders finally getting the recognition for all the work they have done in the area of sustainability. Congratulations BethAnn.

  • Maggie

    How about Mark McAfee CEO of Organic Pastures Dairy? His dedication to raising awareness of the benefits of raw milk and dairy products, against the opposition by lobbyists, the FDA, and the misinformation perpetuated. makes him a hero. Organic dairy products are a great step in the right direction. However, the pasteurization process nearly negates the value in terms of health enhancing enzymes, probiotics and bioavailability. I'd love to see the more conscious members of the dairy community organize and lobby towards making raw dairy available in all 50 states. Check out the Weston A Price foundation, and other resources regarding raw vs pasteurized milk.

  • Noelle

    George Siemon for sure!

  • http://www.wayupstream.com/ El Pescador

    Casey Sheahan is the CEO of Patagonia. Yvon Chouinard is the founder and owner.

  • abbywhite

    Is the voting done? I just learned yesterday that my CEO was nominated and I'd like to get the word out to our employees. Can they still vote?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jen.boynton Jen Boynton

      yup, the voting is still open!

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      Hi Abby, great question.

      Vote, vote, vote! The idea is to provide as much exposure as possible for these sustainable CEOs and companies. There are two goals. One is to get the word out to potential customers about great companies offering products that align value with values at competitive prices. And second, that even in this “soft recovery” our sustainable pioneers are growing revenues and building alliances with customers.

  • barnum

    hey guys – tried voting for top 10 sustainable CEO's and it told me I voted already…unless I am unaware of being a multi-personality, I think your system has a bug…

    hope all is well. Gregor

    • nickaster

      Interesting, it's supposed to work on a combo of IP address and cookies. Possible that someone at your office voted and it's being too strict. I'll check on it!

    • abbywhite

      I'm experiencing similar bugs. Several folks I know have tried voting but can't click from the results page to the voting page — the one with the check-boxes.

  • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

    Thanks Gregor for bringing this to my attention. I have forwarded it onto our editors to look into. Have a great day. Bill

  • Stephanie Lahar

    Fresh face — Jan Blittersdorf of NRG Systems. It's the depth — NRG not only makes equipment for wind energy, but their remarkable green/energy conserving facility, commitments to employee health that go above and beyond best practices, leadership in sustainability ventures locally and nationally. Old guard — Yvon Chouinard. Pioneer in lessening impacts from Patagonia's manufacturing long before anyone thought it was good business, and educates and inspires customers to love the natural world and get informed about issues through their catalogues etc. better than anyone.

  • bethannlederer

    Thank you for the nomination and the votes. It's wonderful to be in the company of such inspiring leaders in the sustainable movement.

    BethAnn Lederer, LEED AP
    http://66.151.177.26/shoppers/our-founder.shtml

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      My goodness BethAnn your ears must be burning over all the support for your nominations. Thank you for your pioneering efforts!

  • Jane

    I think you forgot Tom Szaky of Terracycle. Check out Terracycle.com.

  • http://www.alternativeconsumer.com/ maureen

    I agree with Jane – I was surprised Tom wasn't included. Oh well, maybe next time. Fun survey!

  • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

    Great nomination of Terracycle. So much focus is upon consumer products but I see manufacturing coming back to American as companies like Terracycle figure out how to be both sustainable and price competitive.

  • pasn

    is the vote already over? how can I vote?

  • Sam

    I second the question from pasn, How can I vote?

  • george

    I am sad. One weekend for a such a nice voting is a very short time period. I had no chance to vote. :(

    • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

      Hi George, sorry you didn't get a chance to vote. But this is just the beginning of articles I will be writing asking readers to help increase awareness on the many good people, communities and businesses advancing the restoration of our jobs, economy and environment. STAY TUNED, I hope to provide additional opportunties for your voice and insights to be heard.

  • abbywhite

    I'm experiencing similar bugs. Several folks I know have tried voting but can't click from the results page to the voting page — the one with the check-boxes.

  • pasn

    is the vote already over? how can I vote?

  • Sam

    I second the question from pasn, How can I vote?

  • george

    I am sad. One weekend for a such a nice voting is a very short time period. I had no chance to vote. :(

  • http://www.earth2017.com/ Bill Roth

    Hi George, sorry you didn't get a chance to vote. But this is just the beginning of articles I will be writing asking readers to help increase awareness on the many good people, communities and businesses advancing the restoration of our jobs, economy and environment. STAY TUNED, I hope to provide additional opportunties for your voice and insights to be heard.

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