From our very beginning (30 years ago!), Seventh Generation has been a mission-driven company out to prove that business can be a force for good in the world. Every day we’re inspired knowing that we’re part of something that’s transforming an industry, fostering the health of our environment, and inspiring a consumer revolution to nurture the health of the next seven generations. Our mission is truly what drives us, and its importance is why we recently created a Social Mission Board tasked with keeping that mission burning bright and challenging us to expand its reach.
So, you may be wondering, what exactly is a Social Mission Board? How does it work and who are the people on it? Good questions. Let’s back up for a moment.
In 2017, Seventh Generation made the biggest transition in our company’s history when we went from being a private business to joining the Unilever family—a family that also includes our friends and neighbors over at BenandJerrys. A change in ownership can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’ve built your business around values you want to protect. The good news is, our mission is what made us so attractive to Unilever in the first place. As Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein puts it, Unilever is “not only committed to boosting our shared social and environmental mission, they’re giving us new power to achieve it.” To that end, the Social Mission Board was created to make sure that our mission and core values stay at the center of everything we do now, and far into the future.
Our Social Mission Board (SMB) includes a range of dynamic sustainability leaders who meet twice a year (plus two annual conference calls with Seventh Generation leadership), and who push us to take our social mission initiatives even further. For instance, one way Seventh Generation works to reduce our carbon footprint as a company is through an internal carbon tax. Our Social Mission Board recently urged us to double that tax, from $6 to $12 per ton of carbon to really hold ourselves accountable. This increase will help us expand our use of renewable energy, both during manufacturing and in our headquarters, and fund programs focused on sustainability.
Looking ahead to our 2025 goals, the SMB has also pushed us to…
- Source sustainably, so that 100% of materials and ingredients are biobased or recycled.
- Create zero-waste packaging that’s 100% reused, recyclable, or biodegradable.
- Protect waterways by ensuring no water is contaminated during a product’s lifecycle.
- Consider consumer use when weighing our carbon footprint and our goal to be a company run by 100% renewable energy.
- Build an employee community that is more diverse with regards to both racial and gender diversity, (including the Social Mission Board itself).
Moving forward, the SMB is focused on both climate justice and on addressing our exposure to toxic chemicals. Current Social Mission Board Member Lila Preston is excited that the board can “push the company to take bigger and bolder steps to tackle issues that Seventh Generation is uniquely positioned to address.” Our board members bring a wealth of experience, creativity, and insight to the table so they can address the issues our brand, and our consumers, care about the most.
- Joey Bergstein: CEO at Seventh Generation
- Ellen Dorsey: Executive Director Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change in the fields of environment, democracy, human rights and corporate accountability. Ellen is also a founder of Shine, a global campaign committed to ending energy poverty by scaling access to distributed, renewable, and affordable energy for over a billion people who lack it today.
- Lorna Davis: Senior Advisor to CEO Danone and Global B Lab Ambassador, Lorna is dedicated to supporting Danone and other companies to achieve BCorp certification and be a part of the BCorpmovement.
- Jeffrey Hollender: Co-founder, former CEO, and the original “chief provocateur” at Seventh Generation, Jeffrey is an acclaimed author, speaker and consultant who is a go-to authority on corporate responsibility, sustainability, social equity, global health care, and population issues.
- Kees Kruythoff: Current president of Unilever Home Care, Kees spent four years in South Africa from 2004-2008 with Unilever Foods, taking part in a nationwide program to bring together business, government, and non-governmental organizations.
- Mindy Lubber: Mindy is the CEO, President, and a founding board member of Ceres, whose mission is to urge the world’s biggest investors and companies to take stronger action on climate change, water scarcity, and other global sustainability challenges.
- Lila Preston: A partner at Generation Investment Management, Lila has been a consultant for clients such as Save the Children, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Southern Chile where she worked on community-based forestry and conservation projects.
- John Replogle: A partner at One Better Ventures, LLC and CEO at Seventh Generation from 2011 to 2017, John has spent over 25 years leading high-growth, mission-driven businesses from Seventh Generation to Burt’s Bees.
- Jeanne Rizzo: President and CEO of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Jeanne’s vision guided BCPP to adopt its bold mission to prevent cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.
- Jostein Solheim: Currently Executive Vice President of Food and Refreshments at Unilever, during his tenure as BenandJerrys CEO, Jostein helped the company expand its social mission by becoming a certified B-Corp, taking a stance on climate change, and pushing for more GMO awareness and labeling.
We look forward to meeting the challenges set out by our Social Mission Board as we move boldly into the future. Seventh Generation’s Director of Mission Advocacy and Outreach, Ashley Orgain, believes the SMB will play an essential role on the path ahead, “challenging us and continuing to ask us: are we going far enough?”
We can’t wait for what’s next, and we’re excited to have YOU be part of our journey.
Telling stories with the goal of building a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations and beyond.