Last year I posted the question, “Who are our top sustainable CEOs?”
Your responses were very enlightening. Last year’s top vote getters included Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, George Siemon of Organic Valley Company, Mick Bemans of Ecover and Jeffery Hollender (formerly) of Seventh Generation. In total, voters nominated almost 40 different CEOs covering a range of companies from international corporations to local businesses. Market segments also ran the gamut from clothing, cars and food to household cleaners.
But a lot has happened, and not happened, over the last year. One obvious change is that Jeffery Hollender has left Seventh Generation and the company’s products now sell in Walmart.
The second milestone is further evidence that the stocks of companies judged to be more ethical outperform the stocks of companies that are less ethical, even during our most recent recession littered with bailouts and layoffs. While derivative trading and quarterly earnings continue to dominate financial news reporting there is growing evidence that CFOs and CEOs are making the connection between carbon management, corporate responsibility and financial performance.
My third observation is a “non-event.” America still lacks a national energy policy. The price at the meter, pump and cash register still fails to reflect the externality cost of pollution and trade imbalances created by imported oil. Like electricity, externality costs always find their path of least resistance into the marketplace and we are seeing this occur in our devalued dollar and the explosion in commodity prices. Brent crude oil is again trading around $100 per barrel, cotton prices are up 100% and gold now trades above $1,300 per ounce. And we continue to ask our best and bravest to pay a high personal price to protect our ability to import oil from the Middle East.
National healthcare roared into a still festering national debate driven in no small measure because we are a nation that is overweight with high obesity levels. Gallup estimates that our poor diets and lack of exercise places a $50 million per 100,000 people cost upon our medical system. This is a coast-to-coast crisis with Birmingham, Alabama and Stockton, California sharing the dubious distinction of being America’s most obese cities!
But, arising ever stronger to fill our need for “in me, on me and around me” solutions are companies and entrepreneurs that are offering innovations that are gaining market share traction with a promise of someday soon being price competitive alternatives to our national gluttony for oil, coal, sugar, fat and salt. American car buyers now have a growing number of more environmentally attractive and less oil-intense buying options including next generation hybrids and plug-in electric cars. The Chevy Volt was voted Motor Trend’s car of the year. Even Porsche is now offering hybrids.
So with this “good news, bad news” review I again post this question, “Who among our CEOs should be recognized as leading America into a sustainable future?” Please leave a comment BELOW to make your nomination (you can make more than one). In making your nomination please list the individual’s name, company and why you think they are deserving of recognition. All of your nominations will be publically available for viewing. We will close nominations on March 4th and then I will report back with another article outlining what you told us.
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 and author of The Secret Green Sauce that profiles best practices of actual companies growing green revenues. Watch other interviews of sustainable leaders at Earth 2017 TV. Earth 2017 TV.