Summary of Green Giants

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Adherents of traditional business ideology say it can’t be done: You can’t make money and exercise a social conscience. Yet, nine unique billion-dollar businesses are proving them wrong. These “Green Giant” companies, including Tesla, Toyota, GE, Whole Foods and Nike, earn strong profits while helping to sustain the planet. Sustainability consultant E. Freya Williams identifies six characteristics of these successful green companies. Her examples and supportive documentation build a solid business case for placing purpose ahead of profit. getAbstract recommends her well-researched report to business leaders, social entrepreneurs and consumers interested in in the green business movement.

About the Author

E. Freya Williams, CEO of Futerra North America and co-founder of OgilvyEarth, was executive vice president of business and social purpose at Edelman, a communications firm. She also founded the publication, Mainstream Green.



“Green Giants”

Billion-dollar businesses committed to sustainability, social conscience, shareholders and profit are known as Green Giants. These companies include Unilever, Whole Foods Market, Natura, Chipotle and Tesla, with IKEA, GE, Nike and Toyota rounding out the group with billion-dollar product lines or divisions. Green companies on their way toward becoming billion-dollar businesses – the “Next Billions” – include Warby Parker, Airbnb, The Honest Company, SweetGreen, Patagonia and Method Home.

Companies with a core focus on social issues have an average 25% higher stock performance than their competitors. Publicly traded Green Giant firms average 11.7% higher public returns than their leading rivals. Socially responsible businesses can be profitable and often outperform rivals on a range of metrics.

Green Giants share six pivotal, defining characteristics:

1. “The Iconoclastic Leader”

Green Giants innovate revolutionary products, services and processes that upend categories. These companies have a purpose beyond making money, and social responsibility is part of their organizational fabric. Their sustainability focus isn’t limited to reducing...

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