The stickiest challenge in being a responsible business is the relationship with investors. Hands down. In publicly held companies it is easier to see what is happening because it has to be made transparent to the public. But in privately held companies, there are far fewer requirements. I am a shareholder in Seventh Generation who was informed of the decision to fire Jeffrey Hollender along with most other shareholders, after the fact. There are many questions, but the biggest one for me is regard to The Responsible Business is—Transparency.
I invested in Seventh Generation (SVG) for a couple of reasons. First, I always invest in companies I consult with. Since my relationship is always over multiple years, and my intention is to affect positively the value of the company by working responsible, I believe I should take risk along with the other investors. And I have always benefitted from that choice. I wanted to be a Seventh Generation shareholder from the beginning.
Second, SVG was founded and run from the beginning as a responsible company with a core value of transparency. And it has lived up to that transparency in everything it has done, even in down times and tough situations. I have great respect for such aims and it is a great to have full disclosure on what is going on in a company where you chose to invest.
I worked closely with Jeffrey Hollender for almost five years in the company moving from a small brand to more than doubling its value over less than three years. I have so respect for him and what he stands for. He is a visionary and will do well where every he goes. I have many stories of this transformation in my new book, which will be release in February. And it is a great and responsible story.
However, at the moment, I am without the complete story of what happened in the last couple of weeks, but I hope that the Board of Directors will live up to the value of transparency and tell us all how this decision was made and create the best example of a responsible Transition plan. I hope they will act as The Responsible Business would do, setting the standard for responsibility as laid out by investors.