Chapter 6: Interface Inc.: a model of a self-regulating corporation?
Unlike Royal Dutch Shell and the Toyota Motor Corporation, Interface Inc. has never been the subject of a severe reputational crisis.1 The company has never had to endure ongoing media attacks, serious government sanctions, or vocal complaints from anti-corporate activists. In many respects, Interface is a model corporate citizen, a poster child for a new approach to business that Jackson (2004) defined earlier in the book.
Interface is a relatively small company compared with the other two goliaths of industry. Interface’s revenues of US$960 million in 2013 and US$1004 million in 2014 are modest by comparison. The relatively small size of the company has, probably, allowed it more easily to become a self-regulating corporation. The lessons that Interface has learned about its manufacturing processes, about how to reduce waste and innovate, and how to develop a strategy to become carbon neutral by 2020, has set a new benchmark in leadership, vision and cultural change within corporations.
The Interface Model (now called Mission Zero) is a ‘eureka’ moment in business conduct. The company offers a new way of thinking about the relationship between business and society; one that also takes seriously the environmental challenges that the earth faces. There are other examples of MNCs moving toward self-regulation. These include Unilever, Patagonia, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Stonyfield Farm, Timberland and Ecover, among others. Each of these companies is worthy of analysis as they progress toward self-regulation.
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