Conscientious business leadership requires a strong dedication to a company’s mission and values. In order to put in the work to operate a triple-bottom-line business, company executives must be willing to find new and innovative solutions to the problems all enterprises face. Arguably one of the most inspirational business leaders, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has demanded that his company consider the environmental impact of all parts of its operation. His brand embodies environmental stewardship, and has become one of the most respected and beloved outdoor clothing brands largely as a result of this dedication to Earth as well as the production of high-quality, long-lasting clothes.
A business leader who runs a mission-driven enterprise is a cultural changemaker. In addition to Yvon Chouinard, other thought leaders fill the conscientious business leadership stable, from John Mackey of organic-focused, eco-conscious Whole Foods Market to Max Ventilla of personalized-learning based, data-driven AltSchool. The list of changemakers includes many women in business to improve the world through the operation of their enterprise: Mary Powell runs Green Mountain Power, which is dedicated to renewable energy and was the world’s first Certified B Corporation utility. CEO and co-founder of Dansko, Mandy Cabot believes employee-ownership will not only benefit her shoe company but is also a model to create positive, lasting change in the global economic structure. The list of thought leaders continues to grow, as more business leaders shift to run their companies in a more conscientious and effective manner, and as up-and-coming, inspirational business leaders launch new social ventures.
By working together, powerful thought leaders have been able to have an augmented impact. The creation of benefit corporation legislation has allowed company founders and conscientious business leaders to codify their values into the company’s bylaws. By becoming a benefit corporation, the mission of the company is protected and, in fact, subsequent company executives are legally bound to uphold these values. Thousands of changemakers have taken this step as a way to ensure their conscientious business leadership lasts beyond their direct control of the company. Other thought leaders have formed coalitions and certifications that help present a business leader’s values to the consumer, which often contributes to a business’s success in return. A few examples: Certified B Corporations, 1% for the Plant, Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Read interviews with changemakers about the Benefits of B Corp Certification by downloading our free report, B Corp Certification: Changemakers like John Replogle and Mandy Cabot Reveal the Benefits to Their Business of Becoming a B Corporation.
As inspirational business leaders continue to innovate and demand more from the enterprise they run, more companies will begin to not just do less harm through how it’s operated, but will seek to improve the world by its existence. These are the changemakers and thought leaders using business as a force for good.