Another Recomended Book: Good For Business

Good For Business: The Rise of the Conscious Corporation, by Andrew Benett, Cavas Gobhai, Ann O’Reilly, and Greg Welch (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Reviewed by Shel Horowitz, primary author, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green

If you ever doubted that corporate social and environmental responsibility play a role in business success, consider some of these stats:

  • In a survey of consumers across the U.S., France, and U.K., 74 percent of consumers believe businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change
  • 76 percent  take responsibility for avoiding products from unethical companies, and 63 percent have made purchase decisions based on company conduct
  • An astonishing 85 percent believe that companies need to stand for more than just profitability

All of these are taken from the appendix of Good For Business: The Rise of the Conscious Corporation, which ends with 11 pages of juicy stats. And there are plenty of important stats in the main text, too: such as:

  • The market for organic foods in the U.S. grew by nearly an order of magnitude in just eleven years, mushrooming from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $33 billion in 2008
  • Just the compact fluorescent light bulbs sold at Walmart kept 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere—the same result as removing 700,000 cars from use
  • Reputation accounts for 75 percent of the difference between book value and market capitalization; in other words, good behavior translates into real dollars when a company is sold
  • On the aggregate, companies listed on the 100 Best Places to Work returned 14 percent a year on investment, compared with just 6 percent for the overall corporate economy
  • Tesco, the U.K. supermarket giant, built a store in 2008 that uses just 30% of the energy of a store built just two years earlier

Plenty more to this book than statistics, of course. Much of the text draws from four cornerstone concepts—corporations need to:

1. Be about more than profit.

2. Treat both employees and customers well

3. Champion sustainability

4. Respect the power of consumers

Case-study companies, including well-known examples like Marks & Spencer, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, GE, Whole Foods—and many less-frequently cited examples, including not only companies but also nonprofits—are examined in light of these four criteria, with many specifics.

There is a long digression on mission statements, which the authors reinvent as a living, changing document they call a USOD (Useful Statement Of Direction). Were it up to me, I’d have edited that part down. But this one small negative is more than compensated by pearls of wisdom such as the way a Conscious Corporation turns transparency into advantage, even as old-style companies see it as a recipe for paranoia. (p. 186)

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