by guest blogger Alberto Gonzalez, founder and CEO of GustOrganics
During most of our modern history, business has proved to be the greatest vehicle for creating economic value. Unfortunately, at the same time, business has also been the main culprit in somehow ruining our collective health and wealth while also trashing our planet.
Business as usual focuses on a single bottom line: maximizing profits at all costs.
Profits are without a doubt an amazing thing, and they are, of course, the very center of capitalism. Nevertheless, profits cannot be the only motive for business anymore—at least, not if we’d like to have a world that exists for future generations.
I recently attended an unbelievable event in New York City hosted by Social Venture Network (SVN), an organization that has dedicated 25 years to promoting social entrepreneurship and sustainable development in business. The event was the SVN Hall of Fame and took place at Gotham Hall.
The main purpose of the event was to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of SVN and to award 25 extraordinary people for their work as sustainable business leaders. I know many of us watched the Golden Globes last weekend, and while I do admire the work of our fine actors, I’d love to see as much fanfare for these people.
Environmental Evangelists Honorees:
- Gary Hirschberg, Stonyfield cofounder and chairman
- George Siemon, Organic Valley founder and CEO
- Drew and Myra Goodman, Earthbound Farm founders
- Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation cofounder.
Workplace Champions Honorees:
- Eileen Fisher, Eileen Fisher founder
- Margot Fraser, Birkenstock USA founder
- Chip Conley, Joie de Vivre Hospitality founder
- Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures founder and CEO
- Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, Clif Bar cofounders and co-CEOs.
Economic Justice Mavericks Honorees:
- Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream, president and cofounder
- Dolores Huerta, social justice activist
- Al Fuller, Integrated Packaging Corporation (IPC) founder and CEO
- Judy Wicks and Laury Hammel, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) founders.
Fearless Financiers Honorees:
- Wayne Silby, SVN cofounder
- Josh Mailman, SVN cofounder
- Amy Domini, Domini Social Investments founder and CEO
- Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank founder
- Joel Solomon and Carol Newell, Renewal Partners cofounders.
Visionary Social Entrepreneurs Honorees:
- Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry’s cofounders
- Linda Mason and Roger Brown, Bright Horizons cofounders
- Bill Drayton, Ashoka founder and CEO
- Bill and Lynne Twist, Pachamama Alliance cofounders
- Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green president.
Lifetime Achievement Award Honorees:
- Dame Anita Roddick, The Body Shop founder (awarded posthumously)
- Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and chairman.
These leaders have spent their careers creating economic value while at the same time working to create a better world simply by making better business decisions every single day. They use their businesses to speak to the world about what could be—business can be (and should be) a force for good. They match up their livelihoods with their want to do good for the planet and for the people who work for them, buy from them, and live near them. I think that in a world where “instant gratification” is the name of the game, their achievements are simply extraordinary and speak volumes of their respective commitments towards positive transformation in the business world.
This is exactly the kind of pragmatic leadership that we need going forward. We should celebrate and share their outstanding achievements to increase this amazing force for good. I applaud Social Venture Network for its work and its distinguished list of honorees who are making a difference to all of us every single day.
Alberto Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of GustOrganics, the world’s first certified-organic restaurant using 100 percent organic ingredients, and one of the greenest and most progressive restaurants on the planet, gustorganics.com.
Thank you Alberto Gonzales for this wonderful reminder that although we may often notice the destruction around us, there are those working for good to reverse this trend. I am glad they are getting recognized. Every one of us has a part to play. We make a statement with each choice we make. Make each and every choice one that builds a better, healthier world.