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Don’t Ignore the Transparency Imperative

Five or six years ago, the expectations about transparency were somewhat more relaxed than they are today. Perhaps we hoped that by the time 1,4-dioxane became a public issue, we would have found a way to completely vanquish it (exactly the wrong approach). But dioxane endured, and in the rush to confront an unceasing array of new challenges and opportunities, we never took a hard look at whether to publicly discuss the problem. In a sense, our dioxane dilemma got “grandfathered in” under a new set of transparency rules. Predictably and painfully, it was soon revealed to the outside world. The breathless headlines quickly followed.

Many of us at Seventh Generation had spent our careers working to avoid just such an experience. But viewed another way, dioxane presented us with a rather extreme opportunity to absorb the new rules about transparency.

— Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen

Excerpted with permission of the publisher Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, from The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win. Copyright (c) 2010 by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen.

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This Reviewer

  1. Nell Minow is the cofounder and editor of The Corporate Library, an independent source for U.S. and Canadian corporate governance and executive and director compensation information and analysis. Previously, she was a principal of the activist investment fund Lens; president of Institutional Shareholder Services; and an attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Justice. She has coauthored three books with Robert A.G. Monks, most recently the fourth edition of Corporate Governance (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).

This Excerpt

  1. The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win (Jossey-Bass, 2010) by Jeffrey Hollander and Bill Breen.
  2. Jeffrey Hollender is the cofounder and executive chairperson of Seventh Generation. He is a member and former director of the Social Venture Network, and currently serves on the board of directors of the Greenpeace Fund, the Environmental Health Fund, and Verite. His blog, The Inspired Protagonist, spotlights socially responsible business practices and principles on the global stage. Hollender’s previous books include What Matters Most: How a Small Group of Pioneers Is Teaching Social Responsibility to Big Business, and Why Big Business Is Listening (Basic Books, 2006) and Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe & Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning (New Society Publishers, 2006).
  3. Bill Breen is Seventh Generation’s editorial director and coauthor, with Gary Hamel, of The Future of Management (Harvard Business School Press, 2007). He was a founding senior editor at Fast Company, managing editor of Garbage magazine, and a New York–based feature writer for the Christian Science Monitor. Breen also taught magazine journalism for three years at the City University of New York.
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