The corporate responsibility and sustainability movement has lost a true leader with the passing of Ray Anderson, founder and leader of Interface, based in Atlanta, Georgia. I did not know Ray personally, but, like many people working in the environmental field, I had seen him present at various events and conferences, read his books and followed the amazing progress made by his company towards sustainability.
Interface supports Dogwood Alliance’s work on the Carbon Canopy, a project working to transform the business as usual exploitation of Southern forests by developing markets for carbon sequestered by well-managed forests. Over the years I have developed a relationship with sustainability leadership at the company and its foundation which respectively have joined and generously supported this crucial work.
Through this relationship I have learned some valuable lessons about how Ray was such a winning businessman and such an effective and important corporate leader on sustainability issues. Briefly, be creative – like his vision for a zero waste company, be transparent and honest about your progress, and insist on rigorous analysis and a data driven strategy for making progress towards sustainability goals.
Here is Ray’s inspiring talk at TED from a few years ago.
Our sympathies go out to the Interface family. He will be missed.