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BOOK REVIEW: Values-Driven Business

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on October 9, 2007

Values-Driven Business: How to Change the World, Make Money and Have Fun
Authors: Ben Cohen and Mal Warwick

What is the definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? Ask 5 people and you will likely get 5 different answers. Mal Warwick and Ben Cohen’s book does not offer us a specific definition, but openly describes the unlimited options that businesses have to incorporate the various CSR values each finds uniquely important.

Perhaps your business would like to make a priority of giving back to the community or working on creating a supply chain that has minimal negative social and environmental effects, but you do not know how to get started. Maybe you are a business owner that desires to generously reward your employees, but fears it could affect your “bottom line.” Values-Driven Business inspires and encourages companies to pursue their own individual choices for CSR by sharing a number of stories from existing successful companies.

For instance, Juniper Communities, an assisted living company, built a 95-unit facility following nationally recognized building standards, resulting in a LEED certified building and revealing its commitment to a lighter footprint. Immaculate Baking not only buys the rights for the art used on its packaging for its organic goods, but was inspired to create a foundation that supports many of these artists that were more than just “struggling”, but barely surviving. Eileen Fisher, a women’s clothing company, offers a generous benefits package to its employees that includes profit sharing and $1000 per year, per employee for wellness classes and treatments.

Just as important as its stories, this book becomes an invaluable resource providing suggestions and tools a business can use to take the first step in implementing values unique to the goals of each enterprise. The authors decide to use the term Value-Driven Business in their book rather than CSR, but as explained in the preface it is a personal preference and along with a number of other common terms, can be used interchangeably.

The authors focus on the Small and Medium Based Businesses out there that are either curious about this concept or are ready to jump head first into this emerging and exciting facet of business. Whatever the goal of the reader, this book takes a step-by- step approach to encouraging enterprises to make decisions based on social, environmental and economic principles. It asks the reader critical questions such as “why are you in business?”, “are you ready to take the plunge?” and “can you make money in a values-based business?” The authors provide the guidance and tools for each individual business to answer the questions for itself.

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