The Nominations Are In, Pick the TOP Sustainable CEO

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

First Green Business Coach for Entrepreneur.com. Founder of EARTH 2017, a website posting economic analysis on disruptive trends impacting communities and businesses. President of NCCT, a consulting company that coaches CEOs and business owners on pricing and marketing best practices proven to win the millennial generation, and their moms, as customers.