These have been a busy 12 months at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership. We have a new look, new members, new contributors, and the idea of a higher ambition for business is gaining real traction. Here are some of the highlights:
The first cohort of the Higher Ambition Leadership Institute gathered emerging leaders from member companies BD, Con-way, Henry Schein, Herman Miller, and United Stationers for a rigorous multi-session program led by former Campbell Soup CEO Doug Conant. This cohort will be graduated on January 7 and a new cohort will begin.
The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership continued to grow with the addition of Aetna, Cascade Engineering, Herman Miller, Masonite, Opportunity International, and UGI Corportation. These companies will join together with our founding members on the learning journey to simultaneously create social and financial value. Higher Ambition was also the topic of a presentation by Center co-founder Michael Beer at the annual Academy of Management meeting.
We have a new look at HigherAmbition.org. Our new website presents the growing collection of tools, best practices, and insights on higher ambition leadership. Explore the Blog to find commentary by thought leaders, the Resources page for articles, books, and case studies, and be sure to take the personal and organization assessments. New contributors this year included executives Doug Conant and Doug Wilson If you are interested in contributing to the site, please be in touch (and your name doesn’t have to be Doug).
There has been a great deal of news around the Web on higher ambition initiatives. These companies may have given them a different name but they are each squarely aligned with the desire to create value for all stakeholders. Among the highlights:
– CVS announced that it would stop selling tobacco products. Changing its name to CVS Health, leaders at the company acknowledged that selling products with a documented detrimental impact on health was not consistent with their aspiration to be a primary health resource for their customers.
– Starbucks began paying for tuition for its employees. Building on its leadership in providing health care and other benefits for even part-time workers, the coffee seller made headlines when it announced a program to offer college education to its workers. CEO Howard Schultz called the move both a social statement and a logical business move to help talent recruitment, engagement, and retention.
– Employees and customers united at Market Basket. When a family feud erupted between the two cousins who controlled a New England grocery store chain, it was more than a typical family business spat. At the heart of the dispute was the generosity of one cousin, Arthur T. Demoulas, toward employees: higher than industry average pay and benefits along with bonuses. Employees walked off the job when “Arthur T” was forced out of his role as CEO. Customers followed virtually shutting down the stores. The story made national news and lasted for weeks. In the end, Arthur T led a buyout of the chain and vowed to continue to treat both employees and customers well.
– BCorps pass the 1,000 company mark. B Labs certifies companies based on rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Those that make it are known as B Corps and their number has now swollen to more than 1,000 companies including, Natura, the first public company to take that step. Other well-known companies to adopt public benefit corporation status include Center member Cascade Engineering as well as Patagonia and Warby Parker.
And what’s up for 2015 at the Center for Higher Ambition? We will kick off another year of exploration and growth at our annual CEO Conference in early January. We have CEO learning visits planned to several member company sites and will be unveiling new community offerings. Sign up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date.