No doubt some were surprised by recent announcements that Seventh Generation would be teaming up with Walmart in a partnership that would make Seventh Generation’s products available in some 1,500 Walmart stores. Surely this news disappointed some, angered others and inspired a few. For me, this partnership provides more evidence that Jeff Hollender is brilliant. Hollender for President?
How working with Walmart proves Hollender is a sharp cookie:
- 1. He admitted to an error in judgment. At one time, Hollender said that hell would be a ski resort before his company and Walmart would do business together. But, in a show of true strength and grit, Hollender admitted in a Fast Company interview that he was naïve in thinking the big box retailer would not be able to change. Yes, that is right, he admitted his mistake. Admission of human error: isn’t that corporate social responsibility 101?
- Spirit of cooperation. Despite doubts that the big box giant could change, Hollender and his team persisted and worked with Walmart in their sustainability efforts. They will continue to do so, even after Seventh Generation products are on Walmart shelves. According to Hollender, Seventh Generation will participate in a Walmart working group focused on improving the safety of chemical products and will help educate the retailer’s consumers on the importance of product choice. This cooperation continues Seventh Generation’s commitment to broadening the reach of sustainability.
- Ability to see the full picture. While willing to work with Walmart, Hollender and his team are not blind. Hollender himself acknowledged that the firm’s labor practices have plenty of room for improvement and suggested that Walmart would do well to push its suppliers to use less harmful chemicals. Yes, Hollender knows that Walmart is not perfect, but he is smart enough to understand that if we wait on perfection and only work with wholly sustainable companies we will wait forever and work with no one. Fact is, there are no perfect corporations, as there are no perfect people, but we must move forward anyway.
I am proud of Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation and Walmart. His Seventh Generation colleagues and those on the Walmart team share in the brilliance I attribute to Hollender. Despite imperfections, despite not having the answer to everything, the firms are moving forward anyway, in recognition of their obligation as substantial businesses to contribute to the greater good and bring sustainability to the masses. I can only be inspired. And I meant what I said, Hollender for President? Anyone? Anyone?