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Top Five CEO Environmental U-Turns

  • Top 5 CEO Environmental U-TurnsThe Find: Not everyone can be first to the party, so if you're a manager with a late blooming interest in the environment, know that you're in good company: these five CEOs executed sustainability U-turns and reaped the business benefits.
  • The Source: The environmental blog Treehugger.
The Takeaway: Converts are known for their zeal and, based on a recent post on Treehugger, the principle applies to environmentalism as much as to ecclesiastical matters. If you're a manager who has heretofore made little effort to green your company and you're worried that a change of course may hurt your reputation or your business, take heart. Those going green well into their business careers have some well-known company, including:
  1. Ray Anderson, of Interface, the world's largest producer of modular carpet tiles: "Anderson made one of the most massive reversals of attitude towards sustainability in history so far," says Treehugger. For years Interface regularly dumped tons of waste in landfills, but Anderson performed an about face, "implementing intensive recycling programs, turning to energy-efficient computer controlled boilers, using corn to create carpet, and utilizing solar and wind power." Profits are up.
  2. Sir Richard Branson, of Virgin: Branson's green conversion moment came over breakfast with Al Gore. Convinced of the threat of climate change by the ex-VP he, "decided to initiate one of the largest biofuel investments in the world." His green holdings now include the Virgin Green Fund, which invests in companies working in biofuels, desalination plants, energy efficient lighting, and solar power, and an environmental consultancy in the UK.
  3. Brad Hole, of Sustainable Group, a company that deals in recyclable office supplies: Hole previously ran a decidedly un-green firm called Eversio, but noticing how many binders the company was contributing to landfills, he launched his current enterprise. It is now growing at 300% a year.
  4. Surprise! Rupert Murdoch, of News Corp: Fox News and other News Corp. outlets may be skeptical of global warming and, once upon a time, Murdoch was too. Now Murdoch has pledged to make his company carbon neutral by 2010.
  5. T. Boone Pickens, oilman: Pickens built his fortune on oil, but in an about face last year, "he proclaimed that the United States had to become more energy independent, that peak oil was a reality," and unveiled the Pickens Plan for developing alternative energy. A publicity frenzy ensued.
The Question: Will the downturn see these CEOs drawing back on their green commitments?

(Image of U-turn by DanieVDM, CC 2.0)

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