Former Patagonia chief Michael Crooke, currently a professor at Pepperdine’s Graziadio, gets interviewed by BizEd Magazine and discusses the school’s new social entrepreneurial program cleverly named SEER, for Socially, Environmentally and Ethically Responsible.
Crooke, who was once a Navy SEAL and underwater demolition man, takes his turn in explaining why the principles of CSR and sustainability aren’t just niche interests but necessary values of business.
Successful businesses, according to SEER…
Must balance these four areas of operation: Financial strength, a great product or service, social responsibility, environmental stewardship
Not just for environmentalists and nonprofit junkies
SEER students go to Wall Street, Main Street and Green Street. The business model is applicable to all industries.
SEER students learn to take the long view
“There was a time when businesses were passed on to future generations. When you were passing a business on to someone, you really had to take a long-term approach. But over time, we started thinking in shorter and shorter time spans. Today, we don’t even think in full years—we think in quarters! I think it’s important to get back to that long-term perspective.”
How business students have changed since the 80s
Back when Crooke was an MBA in the late 80s, the eco-conscious were branded as tree huggers. Now, those same values are at the forefront for today’s students. “Sustainability isn’t a fringe movement anymore.”
Biggest misconceptions about business and social responsibility
“Students must understand that it doesn’t matter how eco-groovy you are, or how well you treat your people. If you don’t have a product that wins in the marketplace, your company is out of business. You have to look through the SEER lens—through all four values. You have to start with a strong product or service and have a unique, sustainable, competitive position. If you don’t start with that, it will be very difficult to be a great corporate citizen or environmental steward.”
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