The Responsibility Revolution for Companies

Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen have just published a short book – The Responsibility Revolution – with a big argument.

Hollender and Breen argue that in a new world of global transparency and consumer skepticism, companies must move beyond simple profit-maximization combined with occasional “corporate social responsibility” initiatives, towards more fully embracing a social mission, transparency, community engagement, and innovation to advance a deeper purpose.

As they assert:

To confront the economy’s and society’s daunting challenges, companies must do more than monitor factories, donate to charities, and trumpet efforts to be a little less bad. The responsibility revolution is about reimaging companies from within: innovating new ways of working; instilling a new logic of competing; redefining the very purpose and possibility of business.

Hollender, the co-founder of Seventh Generation, and Breen, the founding editor of Fast Company, are well positioned to assess the state of corporate social responsibility (CSR). From their direct experience building companies, to their deep connections with the leaders of the CSR movement at Patagonia, Timberland, Stonyfield Farms, etc., they weave a number of interesting cases through The Responsibility Revolution, and ultimately hone in on a set of six principles that successful “purpose-driven” companies follow.

  1. Have a central, strong mission
  2. Be transparent (and even open about your problems)
  3. Structure your company like a community
  4. Bring consumers inside
  5. Focus on being authentic, rather than on marketing
  6. Build a corporate consciousness

At GoodGuide, we’re particularly interested in the transparency principle. The book shows how companies have to be transparent about what they do, how they communicate, and how they can learn from their critics. The book gives great examples of companies working to live up to this principle.

To read the first chapter of the book – click here.

And to check out a video of Jeffrey Hollender talking about the thesis of the book, check out this video:

video Responsibility Revolution widget

About Dara O'Rourke

Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and Co-Founder of GoodGuide.
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2 Responses to The Responsibility Revolution for Companies

  1. Tommi says:

    A great proposal. I would direct all of my business to companies that are transparent and follow these 6 principles. It’s a no-brainer.

  2. Steven Gervais says:

    Structuring groups of people "like a community" requires us to understand what a healthy, functioning community is. How does community function with health and balance, both from within the human realm, and from within the ecosystem we belong to? What have the "cultural studies" shown us in observing different ways of being and the effect on community?

    If this principle is understood, slowly and with great care, I bet the remaining principles follow as both means and ends, because they are qualities of community well-being itself; open, authentic, central, transparent, strong, conscious.

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