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ERIC Number: EJ915789
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-1080-5699
Doing Well by Doing Good: Ray C. Anderson as Evangelist for Corporate Sustainability
Watson, McClain
Business Communication Quarterly, v74 n1 p63-67 Mar 2011
Sustainability is becoming an essential topic of 21st-century business communication. Dozens of forms of communication across thousands of firms are being used both to achieve a measure of operational sustainability and to publicize those efforts externally to the many external constituencies on whose attitudes and beliefs the success of those firms depend. In this article, the author examines a recent book by one CEO who takes a very different approach in his sustainability narrative. His approach, while very hard won, has proven capable of making a significant impact both on industry and on the public mind. Ray C. Anderson is the founder and CEO of Interface, Inc., the world's leading producer of commercial carpet tiles. He has been called a "Hero of the Environment" by "Time Magazine," and "America's Greenest CEO" by "US News and World Report." The 2007 Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts ranked Interface, Inc. as the global company with the greatest commitment to sustainability. Hundreds of times in dozens of different venues, Anderson has told the story of how he went from heading an extremely wasteful petroleum-based manufacturing company to being a guru of sustainability. The author wants to show that there is something particular about the structure of Anderson's narrative that gives it its unique power and that has led to him being one of America's most successful public communicators about business sustainability. In a nutshell, what Anderson does is include "the past" into his sustainability narrative. Whereas most companies tell a sustainability story that begins now and moves into the future, Anderson's narrative contains a more familiar Beginning (before)-Middle (change)-End (after) structure that is typically more aesthetically pleasing to audiences. But this simple narrative addition does not only create aesthetic pleasure. Indeed, because he can start his story with a "before" and show his conversion from "plunderer of the earth" to exemplar of how companies can "do well by doing good," Anderson's sustainability narrative delivers in spades what most can only dream of: authenticity and dramatic power.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A