Ethical Business Leadership in Troubling Times
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Ethical Business Leadership in Troubling Times

Edited by Joanne B. Ciulla and Tobey K. Scharding

Perhaps the fundamental question in CSR is: What are the responsibilities of businesses and business leadership to society? Moreover, do the responsibilities of business change in times of social and political turmoil? The chapters in this book tackle several aspects of these questions with chapters on business and politics, the environment, technology, and immigration; along with broader questions about leadership, governance, and the very nature of CSR.
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Chapter 16: Future Earth leadership

Eleanor O’Higgins and Laszlo Zsolnai

Abstract

One of the biggest problems of humankind today is the considerable ecological overshoot of its activities which transgresses planetary boundaries and results in serious and mostly irreversible ecological degradation. Based on the principle of responsibility developed by Hans Jonas, calling for actions that foster human life on our planet, the chapter discusses the roles and duties of business leadership in the age of the Anthropocene. We argue that the normative concept of Future Earth, namely, that human activities should serve the survival of life on Earth (including human, non-human, and future life) is central to a moral type of leadership orientation and focus. We maintain that a prime duty of responsible leadership today necessitates going beyond mainstream business practices by creating and implementing progressive business models. This chapter uses the cases of Unilever and Patagonia to illustrate how courageous business leaders with novel vision and moral imagination transform their business organizations to stabilize life conditions on Earth.

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