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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

The UK and Europe is so far ahead of the US when it comes to CSR. If I only had a penny for everyone who said this. I hear this almost every single day. And not just from those in England who have a slightly superior attitude when it comes to CSR. I hear it from people here in the US just as often, if not more often. The truth is that we are comparing apples and oranges. Is cricket better than baseball? Only if you are from England. Although you wouldn’t know that from recent results – excluding the Ashes. And you would only like cricket more if you enjoy sitting in the sun and rain for five days and still not get a result. But I digress. They are both ball sports but they are vastly different. They might even share a common history, but that is where it stops.

I’ve noticed small differences as well. In the US companies focus often on what they do in the community – their communities. How you interact and how you support them. Europe tend to focus more on how you run your business in a responsible way – it’s about operations and how you work. The impact is important to both, but in the US you look at your community and their needs first and the way you work in your community might have something to do with the way you operate, but does not have to. In Europe you focus on your role in society through your operations and the impact you have, and then you improve on these. Through these operational changes you will have a more positive impact on society. Both benefits society, but they have slightly different points of departure.

The reason why the community focus is so central in the US is because there is less of a safety net in the US than in most of Europe. People do not expect government to solve their problems or protect them from every single little thing in life. No, people do that themselves and they tend to look after themselves and sometimes after each other. They expect to solve issues themselves. Americans like the idea of less interference by government and more control by themselves in taking responsibility of their own lives. It might have something to do with the open spaces, but Americans do not like people telling them what to do. They want to be masters of their own destiny. Less government and more power to the people.

In the UK and much of Europe there are much more of a reliance on government to interfere in daily life. People expect government to take more control of their daily lives and maintain the rules of how society engage and organize themselves. The rules of engagement. And they want government to identify the common areas of good that will help improve society. Government will tell you what is bad and help you to become better. All that is left for companies to do is ensure they do their best through operations and compliance to government regulations.

That brings me to a second and more important point of difference – regulations and compliance. Corporate behavior is managed through regulations and compliance in the UK and Europe. Everything you do is regulated and not left to the company to try to innovate on their side. Any leadership position you develop is very quickly turned into a government requirement. (Your window of opportunity to show true leadership will stay open for a very short period in this environment). Yes, European companies do some amazingly innovative stuff but just notice carefully how much of that innovation actually takes place outside of their own borders – where they source from or manufacture.

It helps that there is a strong central government in Europe. It makes it easy to push through new regulations. And it is even easier in Europe where the European Commission is hardly held responsible by ‘the people’ and have an almost free ride in bringing in new regulations. No wonder that Europe brought out regulations to define what a banana is – up to the curve needed to be defined as a banana. And I am not joking…

And it is also easy to bring in new regulations in the UK. It is a small island with a central government that runs the rule over everyone. Yes, Scotland and Wales have some autonomy, but the UK is still pretty much ruled from London. It is easy to understand the drive towards more regulations with so much power in the hands of a central government. It is in the nature of government to try to rule their own way. And each new government want to leave behind some kind of legacy. And what is easier than to bring in new regulations that can be sold as ‘for the good of everyone’.

One dynamic that makes this possible in the UK is the level of stakeholder engagement by the government. I was amazed to see how little joint constructive meetings between business, government and NGOs take place in the US. When I lived and worked in the UK it was so different. Regular meetings with all these key stakeholders together – and working together to fight and find solutions. Not over here in the US. It’s about lobbying and individual actions – and at best a few partnerships that will include the usual suspects of progressive companies and engaging NGOs. But not in the same was as over in the UK.

But the regulatory approach is different in the US. States control their own destiny much more than any regional authority in the UK. The federal government does not have the power to control everything. Even taxes are different from state to state. And some states like Massachusetts might regulate more towards the protection of people than those in say Texas, but it is up to each state to decide what is most relevant for their state. Federal government can provide guidelines and try to push through federal laws, but this is generally fought tooth and nail by states. The art of the federal government is to try and keep a balance between inching forward on the regulatory front and encouraging states to take control at a local level. But change happens at state level and not federal level.

This approach allows for companies to take more risk in trying out new practices and to develop a leadership position. They know they can bring in these practices without the danger of it being regulated to death. Yes, it is a fine balance. They still have to tell the truth in advertising and not make claims that can’t be backed, but they can be more risky in taking chances. Over in Europe it is slightly different. The aim of regulations is not to bring best practice into law, but to rather identify the lowest common denominator that could be passed as acceptable behavior by companies. I know, both have a place – best practice and lowest common denominator. In the US they lean more towards the former and in Europe more to the latter. It fits their societal and political needs.

Of course the US does have one thing that ensures that the lowest common denominator is ‘self regulated’. The I-will-sue-you culture. You make one mistake and the consumer will take you to the cleaners. Yes, it is out of control, but it creates an incentive for business to not do something that can harm the public. There are enough lawyers here to ensure that you will get sued. Businesses in Europe can hide behind compliance of law and it is much more difficult to sue someone if they haven’t broken the law instead of suing because they didn’t look after the public interest.

And some of the regulations make the way companies act very different. For instance, both the UK and US have regulations regarding how foundations are run. And these are very, very different. US corporate foundations are not allowed to do any work that can directly benefit the company. This was put in place to ensure that companies do not see this as a way to hide money, and to ensure they spend their foundation money on what is good for society as a whole. Very different in the UK. Much more freedom to be strategic in the way they spend their foundation money. They can spend the money on helping suppliers of the company and still write it off under foundation rules. The unbelievable work the Shell Foundation (UK) has done in development in poorer countries would not be allowed under US rules.

This difference in regulations and the community/operations dynamics also impacts key aspects of CSR – such as stakeholder engagement and CSR reporting. GRI is flourishing in Europe but struggling to find a solid foothold in the US. But it makes perfect sense. Europe is more driven by regulations and compliance and standards such as GRI makes sense. Everyone reports in a structured way following a specific methodology. It makes less sense in the US where there is less regulatory pressure and a greater need to engage their communities and consumers. They target their communications according to the needs of the receiving audience and not the regulatory and NGO audience. And CSR reporting GRI style is not the easiest thing to use when communicating to consumers and communities.

The US also likes rock stars and celebrities more than anything else. Man, their news are pathetic over here – give me the BBC and Guardian please. Every second story is about some celeb and their latest escapade. And that plays out in the way company CEO’s act as well – not empty celebs but the need for visible champions. The CEO and Chairman tend to play a major role in the public view of the company. Bill Gates is Microsoft. Jeff Swartz is Timberland. Howard Schultz is Starbucks. Steve Jobs is Apple. And each one have to make their mark in this world. Not because they want to, but because people expect them to lead from the front – lead the way in how and what they give and the way they run their company. They are the people others look up to and aspire to become. These leaders drive change across all businesses and are needed in a less regulated business environment. They are by default the people who drive real change through their own commitment to making business and society better. Thank God for them.

Less so in Europe. Companies are seen as more important that the individual. A few has made it to the front – Richard Branson as one. But they stand out because they are so different from the rest. The focus tends to be on the company and not the individual who runs it. Yes, they play a role, but the company is seen as less dependent on the CEO and/or Chairman than in the US. Another reason why the UK at least loves splitting this role while the US wants the same person in charge. Two big personalities would be difficult to control in the US.

One area where the US is way ahead of Europe is in communicating their CSR. They tend to focus on the communications part more while Europe tend to focus more on the operational changes. Maybe it is because the European (UK at least) society is more reserved than the US, but it means that Ben and Jerry’s is more respected in the US than Unilever. But in the UK it is the other way around. Of course this can be exploited and can confuse the consumer. A classic example is the current discussions in Washington about ‘green’ advertising and marketing. But the best tend to rise to the top and consumers do know to take things with a pinch of salt.

In short, the US is different because it fits in with the way their society organizes itself compared to Europe. Both approaches have real value. Both approaches will improve the world little by little. Both approaches will have failures and successes. But the one is not better than the other. Just different. Dealing with their own little peculiarities in their society and political systems. Both work. And both fails. But the US is not in any way behind Europe when it comes to the role of business in society. No. They are just different. An US approach won’t last a second in Europe. And a European approach won’t survive a second in the US. The real challenge for them both is to adapt when they are outside their own borders, culture and comfort zone. For example, neither will last long in China or South Africa if they just try to continue working the way they do in their country of origin. New rules and new ways of operating is needed. They have to bring the best of their world and merge it with the societal and political expectation in these new countries. And that won’t be better either. Just better for that specific country.

But the discipline of business in society benefits from this dynamics – bringing different approaches to the table. And it is when these merge and mingle that we move further ahead in this CSR world of ours. Of course there is one approach that works no matter where you are. The South African approach. But I won’t be giving away our secrets just yet. No, I am way to responsible to do something like that.

And don’t get me started on Europe. I use the term loosely. Although they tend to have regulations that cut across the business sector, each country will have its own little peculiarities. Not in my wildest dream will I ever tell an Englishman that he (or she) is similar to the French. Or German. Or Italians. Or any combination of the above. Each to their own. No one is better. Just different and it is up to us to learn a bit from everyone to help us all be a bit better. That’s how we make CSR work – by making it targeted to the needs of each society and their particular needs and the way they organize themselves.

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“Sharing is a special way of caring…” That line comes from that purple dinosaur – Barney. It was sound advice for my oldest daughter when she was still a little thing having her first baby crush on Barney. Barney helped us teach her that sharing what you have is a special way of showing people that you care. Unfortunately Barney isn’t that big anymore and we have to do most of this teaching all by ourselves when it comes to my little one. She get’s the message though as we pass along the Barney wisdom from generation to generation. But not everyone remembers this piece of wisdom. Especially not in these times when banks and other financial institutions are hit hard because of how they pay out bonuses.

Bonus payments will always be a tough nut to crack and will always leave someone unhappy. Each business is different and different people play different roles depending on the company in question. Sometimes it is a difficult pill to swallow when a “generic” senior executive receive a bonus that feels less grounded on the broader effort of everyone at the firm. But I have seen enough companies with dynamic leaders who make the difficult decisions, led companies into growth or out of difficult circumstances, and who owned up to their responsibilities to know that not everyone is truly equal in any company. Even though we would love to think everyone plays an equally important role in a company the truth is that some people play a leadership role for a reason and they should be compensated for that.

However, emphasis on compensation. Each person should be paid according to their role and responsibilities. Bonuses tend to be a broader reflection on how a company and specific department performed, the specific role that an individual played in that performance and how long a person has been with a company – performance, effort and loyalty. It should not be about one single thing – “My department did the best” is not a good enough argument for super bonuses if the company as a whole failed. That’s the problem most people have with the bonuses paid at certain financial institutions. Salary as compensation reflects the role and responsibility and bonuses tend to reflect performance, effort and loyalty (of course these three will also have an impact on long-term salary and promotions.)

What is a fair bonus? Like I said, each company and industry is different. And, to tell you the honest truth, the discussion here is really a theoretical one for me personally. I’ve never worked at a company where the bonus structure has been an issue. It’s always been fair and transparent. It’s also not something that has been a key issue for me from a CSR and Sustainability perspective. My questions from this perspective would typically be about transparency, governance, whether CSR/Sustainability goals played a role in establishing bonuses, how it impacts CSR/Sustainability, employee relations etc. Never really about the actual bonus structure. Maybe I should but there are more important things to focus on from a CSR and Sustainability perspective – and I haven’t worked with banks or other financial institutions that often.

But I do know fairness when I see it. And sometimes this fairness blows me away. This line says it all: “all of them – from the chairman … and the managing director … down to shop assistants and shelf-stackers – get the same percentage payout.” Hang on a minute. You mean they share the bonus pot equally? That’s a bit of a shocker. Must be some small little business somewhere or a bunch of trade unionist running a lunch-time cafeteria, right? No. It’s the John Lewis Partnership. For those who don’t live in the UK, they are a large company (just over $11bn in sales) that owns leading UK retail businesses – Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee.  And by “they” I mean all 70,000 permanent staff. That’s why they are called the John Lewis PARTNERSHIP. They all own John Lewis. Still, it’s a pretty novel idea to share bonuses equally.

Most people applauded this but some people commented in The Guardian piece that the actual amount each one got paid should have been the same. I think that is missing the point that each one gets compensated according to his or her role and responsibility and the percentage bonus payment is therefore also a reflection of this. We do, after all, still live in a world dominated by a more or less free market.

I am impressed because it shows more than just a Barney culture of caring. It reflects the view that we either fail together or we succeed together. The essence of a partnership and the essence of the John Lewis ownership structure.

I don’t think most companies can do it the John lewis way. Maybe those owned or bailed out by governments should implement such a John Lewis-styled bonus structure. But the majority of companies are not partnerships and have different masters. The John Lewis example is the extreme but more companies can learn from the basic principle and work to ensure that their bonus structure reflects the basic values – all employees work together to make a company succeed (or help get the company through a tough time) and they should therefore be treated equally. Maybe not exactly equal – my rule of performance, effort and seniority should play a differentiating role. But at the very least there should be some level transparency and equality built in to ensure all good work gets rewarded. Of course it also sends a strong message to all John Lewis workers – let’s pull together to get through the tough times as we will all benefit from an upturn. This way everyone feels ownership of their working world and believe that as long as they work hard and do their best they will be treated fairly. And the outside world will judge the company on how they treat their workers – as equals or not? If it’s greed – is it driven by a top-heavy greed or equally shared? If it is truly about equality and everyone having to do their best for the company – is it reflected in the bonus structure? I think that’s the part that many of the banks and financial institutions just don’t get.

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This happened a few years ago – not in my current company by the way. Anyway… I was sitting in the office of this very senior dude from a massive company. One of the biggest in the world. They said they needed some help on their corporate social responsibility strategy. Fine, that’s the kinda stuff I do – help companies find strategies that improves their impact on society and the environment. My approach – shared by many? Making sure it makes business sense as well. And tie it to their brand. That’s my view of sustainability – getting companies to do good by making it impossible for them to stop doing it because it’ll hurt the bottom line. Blah, blah, blah… Anyway, enough of my philosophy or job – that’s for another day. Back to the office and the dude… 

So we sat there and he was telling me how much his company cares for the world around it. You know, the usual spin of how values means everything to them, that being responsible is at the core of their business and that they have been doing the right thing way before it was so popular. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. So I listened. And listened. And listened some more about all the wonderful things they have done. I think he must have realized I was losing some concentration after about 30 minutes or so and decided to switch tactics. He stopped and said, “But don’t believe me. Let me tell you about this guy we have in one of our California stores. They had this big fire/landslide/flooding (can’t actually remember which one) down in his area and he just jumped in and helped the local community. He organized everyone in the store to collect things and help those who needed help. Our store was the beacon of hope for the whole community. All because that one guy decided that he could make a difference because of us.” 

Now that was a great story. He should have left it at that but I he pushed on. “Wait, let me get hold of the guy for you.” And he jumped on the phone to call someone. Now the person who answered the phone had no idea I was in the office. He just heard the voice of the guy I was talking to. Let’s call him Mr F and my guy Mr B. So this was the conversation: 

Mr B: “Hey, Mr F! How are you. Listen, I need some info that I hope you can help me with.” 

Mr F: “Sure. Shoot.” 

Mr B: “Remember that guy who worked in the California store who organized everyone to help out the local community back during the fire/flood/landslide?” 

Mr F: “Yeah, I remember him.” 

Mr B: “How can I get hold of him?” 

Mr F: “Sorry B, can’t help you there. We had to fire his ass because he just wanted to help the people in his community the whole time. I mean really…” 

Mr B: “Click…” 

I won’t go into details on how he tried to worm out of that one! Let’s just say that I had a very good chuckle afterward and enjoyed watching him try to get out of that one. It didn’t work. I never did work with that company… 

You see, there are many companies out there telling us how great they are. Many of them are. And I have been lucky enough to work with most of them. First as a trade unionist with the workers at the factories, then as a campaigner at Oxfam, also as a development worker and so many other jobs I’ve had. I’ve been damn lucky to have done this across the globe – Africa (where my heart lies), Europe, China, US – still waiting for the Maldives to give me a call though. Anyway… Nowadays I’m on the sharp edge – the business side. I help companies do better by doing good. Not charity but doing business better and in a more sustainable way. Tying people, planet and profits together in harmony. (Some plucking of the harp strings to set the mood please.) 

Although I give companies the benefit of the doubt because I am interested in affecting change, I am also enough of a cynic to know that not all companies do the right thing because they believe in it. They do it for different reasons. I don’t really care what the reason or reasons might be. I want change and will take any angle that works to achieve that change. I keep my focus on the result we all want – help address poverty, improve human rights, get a handle on diseases, stop environmental degradation, start reversing or containing climate change etc. The reason why companies are willing to do better is of less interest to me; I am focused on the end goal – improving on their impact and helping them be a more efficient company in the process. Everyone has their own reason and we have to work with what we’ve got. 

I’ve also realized that very few companies actually go out to do harm. No one wakes up in the morning thinking of how they can nail the environment or the people they affect. Most of them just try to run a business and in most cases don’t realize the affect of their actions until it is too late. They are just people trying to do their job to the best of their abilities working with the limited information available to them. They need people like activist to point out their mistakes. And they need people like me and those I work with to help them correct what they do or improve on their impact. The best is of course when they call us in before the er… stuff hits the fan… 

Before I start, full disclosure. I have worked with most of the companies I am going to mention in these “The Company You Keep” posts. Sometimes as a campaigner against them and sometimes working with them to make the world a little bit better. But, like I’ve said, I’ve worked with other companies as well. No naming them. That won’t be fair. But the companies I will mention in this regular blog (The Company You Keep) stand out as my favourites. Stand out because I found something inside them that I didn’t always believe that companies can have. Values. Values that are similar to my own. Values we share. And values that most of those working for them also have. Deep rooted values. 

Oh make no mistake. None of them are perfect. They make mistakes. They continue to make mistakes. But that’s not the point. We all make mistakes. I do. No matter how much I would love to say that I am perfect and always live my values in a way that never impacts anyone negatively – I know it is not possible. Bull I say. We live and therefore we are damn well guaranteed to make mistakes. For instance, you think we can be environmentally friendly? Haha! Nice one! We are human, it is in our nature to have a negative impact on the environment. The only time we’ll have a positive environmental impact is when we push up daisies. But it’s what we do to limit our impact and what we do to try and leave the world a little bit better that matters. Every single one of us will have an impact and each one of us will make mistakes along the way. Now imagine putting thousands of people into one company and ask yourself how the hell can you in any way not have someone make mistakes – even when you try your best? It ain’t gonna happen. 

I’m more interested in intent. What’s the intent of the company? Are they purely driven by profits or do they feel neutral towards their impact (i.e. don’t really think about it) or do they believe their business can actually be a force for good on all three levels – people, planet and profits. The mistakes can be rectified when the intent is right. Let’s not get stuck on individual mistakes. Let’s correct them and move forward to better things. 

And it’s easy to shoot your mouth off from the sidelines. This is wrong and that is wrong. This company isn’t perfect and that company isn’t perfect. Point me to someone or anything that is perfect and I’ll show you a liar. More importantly, come up with some practical solution while you shoot your mouth off. Criticism is easy – solutions not so easy. 

My clients know this story as I use it often… 

Life is like my marriage. 80% of the time we agree with each other. 20% of the time I acknowledge I am wrong! But the point is that we should focus on the 80% that defines our relationship. The 80% that is good. The 80% of where we share a vision and a life. Too many times people focus on the 20% and they end up divorced. That’s the same with companies. I focus on the 80% and we work together on the 20% to make the 80% even stronger and better. Anyway, that’s a blog for another day – my 80-20 rule on life. 

I believe in these companies because we share values. Because we share a common vision of a better future. They’ll make mistakes but they’ll damn sure give it a good shot before they give up. Actually, I hope they will never give up. Because we all lose if they do. These companies are companies who do the right thing because they truly and deeply believe that values is a central part of who they are from every angle – people, planet and profits. It’s not one or the other. They believe in this triple bottom line. You get the picture. They do the right thing because that is who they are and because it is the right thing to do. The world would be a much better place if more companies were like them – both in values, value and the way they operate. 

Ask yourself a simple question. Would the world be a better place if all companies acted like them? 

Don’t think I am some sucker who just fell for their little love story. Remember, I campaigned against some of these companies. I’ve been a trade unionist and an activist. I have a high sense of smelling er… something wrong from a mile away. And I’ve worked too closely for too long with most of them to not know who they really are. 

There is a snag here as well. I can’t tell you everything I know about them. I can’t tell you all the good reasons I like these companies because I work or have worked with them. I can’t tell you about the difficult business decisions some of them have taken in the name of “doing the right thing”. I can’t tell you any of that because I work with them. But everything I do mention can easily be found on the web with a little bit of research – you go fill in the gaps. Talk to other people. Open your eyes a little and look as deep as you can. Search for some soul. Not perfection – just values and soul. Sorry I can’t tell you everything. I guess you have to do the one thing I never do – trust me on this one! 

So here we go. The first of my favorite companies in the world. In no particular order. Let’s just start… 

Timberland 

One of the coolest CEO’s I have ever met – Jeff Swartz. I follow him on Twitter and I’ve had the pleasure and honor to meet him and work with him. Really inspiring guy. And a real no nonsense kind of guy. And he is always willing to speak his mind. He actually called out a anti-climate change “activist” in a blog post a few weeks ago. A real inspiration for his whole company. But let me tell you the first time I heard this guy speak a few years ago. 

I was attending a Social Accountability International (SAI) conference. They focus on ensuring strong independent verification of working conditions in factories all across the world. Yes, they are activists and a highly respected group. You know this is true when not everyone likes what they do. Anyway, they asked Jeff to be the key-note speaker. 

In he came. A lot younger than what I expected. And, as luck would have it, damn handsome as well. (How come some people really have it all! Cool company and good looks AND such strong values!) Anyway, so Jeff stood on stage and started talking. The first thing that hit me was how this guy didn’t sound media trained. No notes to speak from or slick delivery lines. It actually looked like this guy believed what he was saying. Now I didn’t know much about Timberland up to then. I liked the brand and their boots and knew they weren’t a crap company. I knew my fellow activists liked them but I never asked why. I didn’t particularly care because I wasn’t that involved in their industry much in those days. 

And Jeff told us about how he approaches worker conditions in the factories. You see, he has kids. They help him stay grounded and remind him that those working in those factories most likely also have kids. And he asked himself, “If my kids were the kids of one of those factory workers, how would I want them to grow up and their parents to be treated.” Because, you see, it all trickles down to the kids in the end doesn’t it? That was insightful. He didn’t see the workers as parents only but he made it personal by putting the face of his kids there. You know why this was so impactful on me? Because that is what I do. I see those kids in Africa and everywhere else and I ask myself – what if that was one of my daughters. What would I expect from someone like me? It drives me. And it sustains me. 

Many years later I had the opportunity to work with Jeff and Timberland. I remember the first meeting. I can’t repeat everything that he said but I can repeat what is public knowledge. I asked him why his company does all this CSR and sustainability work and why it matters that his company always do the right thing. It’s my standard values test and sets up my bullshit meter. 

He looked at me for a while and then just said a very simple line. “Justice through commerce.” He truly believes that we can make this world a better place if we have companies that see their responsibility to the shareholders as intertwined with the responsibility to society and the environment. A company can bring positive change through the way it acts. Companies can actually create the environment where human rights are respected if they accept that responsibility and use their influence and power in a positive way. 

And he also told me that he is just a simple bootmaker. His grandfather started the company. Making boots. And his grandfather taught him how to make boots. And he wants to know that every hand that touches that pair of boots had as good an experience making these boots as those who will eventually wear them. And that the environmental impact in making those boots are as soft as when we wear them hiking in the mountains. So simple yet so powerful. “Justice through commerce.” 

Jeff, love you dude. Glad we have CEO’s like you willing to speak out and be loud. And I don’t care what you say – or what your kids might think… You are cool and have the privilege of wearing those awesome boots day in and day out. We could do with more people like you. You inspire us to be better than who we are. Just a bootmaker? Yeah right. And I am just an African… Ubuntu to you! 

But it goes beyond Jeff. Yes, he drives it forward and sets the vision. But the company is full of people driven to do the right thing. You should see them pushing and driving a new agenda each day. Crazy as hell but everyone going forward. Always wanting to take up a new challenge and set new standards. And the sad thing? You have not heard much about what they have done. Wish you could. You will be blown away by some of the things Jeff and team is doing and have been doing. From creating an industry leading eco-label that tells you about the environmental and social footprint of the pair of boots you are wearing, to the cool community projects they have in cities across the world, to engaging with their stakeholders (activists included) four times a year around quarterly reporting, to really get to the heart of challenging issues, to speaking out against inaction in dealing with climate change to… you name it and they do it. Too much to mention and Jeff and his gang will remind me of all the things I’ve missed – the good and the bad. 

The best part? They make one damn fine pair of boots. Good to look at and even more comfortable to wear. And one that can take the knocks and be even more comfortable to wear the next day. A bit like the company itself. 

So as I sit here looking at my old worn Timberland boots (yes I have them on right now) and know I will wear them again tomorrow with my new Timberland gloves the wife bought me, I know one thing about Timberland. Proud. Damn proud of them. And they are as tough as hell and as comfortable as soft leather should be. Just perfect to kick some butt on the way to greater “justice through commerce”. 

I know they are worth a shot. I know they are worth rooting for. I know that the world will be a better place if other companies share their values. And I know the world will be a better place if more companies challenged themselves as much as they challenge themselves. 

So tell me. Are you proud of the company you keep? 

Made to kick ass...

 

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Note: Just in case anyone thought otherwise. No company approached me or paid me or asked me or engaged me in any way to write about them. I am just one damn lucky guy to have had the pleasure to work with these companies in one way or another. And I’ve watched them closely and liked and loved what I saw. So I decided to write about them. Here is the other thing. I work for a company that I admire as much as these companies. But it would be unfair to write about them. That would be sucking up to the boss. Yes, we are large. But we are privately owned. And the owner? One hell of a guy. One heck of a family. You wouldn’t know he was the boss if he walked in. But you will when you see how we react. Why? Because we admire him. Admire him for doing the right thing. Always. I work for one hell of a company. They look after us and empower us. And they give me the opportunity to be who I am AND work with some of the most awesome companies in the world. Hell, they know about me as a blogger and speaking my mind no matter where I am. And they encourage it and support it. Now that is empowerment. Tell me. Can you say what you want and be who you are where you are working today? I can.

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