REDEFINING SUCCESS AND THE UNPAID ‚??LOVE‚?Ě ECONOMY
In Business, March-April, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 28
New book, Ethical Markets, by Hazel Henderson lays out the strategy to fulfill untold amounts of goals and potential.
Hazel Henderson has written Ethical Markets as a kind of who's-who in sustainability. The book, subtitled ‚??Growing The Green Economy,‚?Ě is peppered with photos and interviews of people who bring to life the spirit of socially responsible investing, corporate social standards, community commitment and entrepreneurial innovation. The publication is based on the nationally syndicated public television series of the same name.
‚??Our quality of life has much to do with the vitality of the community in which we live,‚?Ě writes Henderson. ‚??Healthy communities typically have stable families, enjoyable neighborhoods, and businesses that revitalize the local economy. Because economists have not measured the deeper, broader kind of efficiencies provided by cohesive communities and the values of families and local cultures, these local living economies have been undervalued - until they break down. Then social services, unemployment, drug and crisis counseling, and caring for homeless people require huge taxpayer costs. Today, many of the smartest investors, asset managers, and pension funds are joining with local leaders in reinvesting in these vital community redevelopment efforts.‚?Ě
Women own a great many fair trade and green businesses. Women-owned businesses now represent some 50 percent of all privately held companies of all types - from construction and science to health care and environment. As they increasingly operate in the world of commerce and industry, women are redefining success because their life goals differ from those of their male counterparts. Women cite the need for personal autonomy and flexibility to manage their complex lives, and the freedom to address unmet needs with their business models. Women-owned and managed businesses now employ over 19 million people.
Many businesses - women-owned and otherwise - are leading the development of renewable energy. The public debate about declining global oil production and global warming has at last begun. In spite of analytical habits that overlook the full value of investments in all forms of renewable energy and huge savings from the technologies of efficiency, entrepreneurs, technologists, inventors and venture capitalists are breaking the logjams. A cleaner, greener, more energy efficient future is coming into view, writes Henderson. This energy transition can create millions of new jobs, clean our air and water, and reduce problems with carbon dioxide build up.
The industrial revolution, she points out, changed not just our work lives but the goods we buy, including food. Many scary stories over the past 25 years concerning the industrialization of food supplies have led to the explosive growth of the clean food, local and organic agriculture industries.
In her chapter, ‚??The Unpaid 'Love' Economy,‚?Ě Henderson notes how money has morphed over the centuries from stone tablets and paper into pure information: ‚??blips on hundreds of thousands of computer trading screens in today's global casino, where $1.5 trillion worth of currencies travel around the planet every day. ‚?¶ Money serves as a unit of exchange and can be a store of value, unless manipulated or ravaged by inflation. Economists view the world through the lens of money. Everything has its price and national statistics, GNP, investment, productivity - all follow the money. Yet at least 50 percent of all production, goods and services in industrial societies, and up to 65 to 70 percent in many developing countries, never count in official GNP statistics, because they are unpaid.‚?Ě The equally important nonmoney sectors in many countries that constitute the core wealth of societies include raising children, care of families and communities, barter clubs and cooperatives. They include volunteer activities. In the U.S., approximately 89 million Americans participate in volunteer activities at least five hours a week.
Scott Burns, financial editor of the Dallas Morning News, focuses on the average American family and how it is a lot more productive than the Internal Revenue Service recognizes. He wrote in Ethical Markets about his 1977 book, The Household Economy: ‚??I am bothered by the fact that economists only recognized things that involved the passage of money, and that there were other things out there that were economic that weren't visible. What I found was that the value of women's unpaid wages at that time was greater than all the wages paid by all the manufacturing companies in America. ‚?¶ I know we're talking about the Love Economy, but where do we nurture people? To the extent we monetize more and more, and devalue the nurturing that occurs in families, we're hollowing out that whole vital tool for moving the culture to the next generation.‚?Ě
GREEN BUILDING AND DESIGN
In the chapter ‚??Green Building and Design,‚?Ě Henderson writes: ‚??Imagine the most high-tech building possible, and then consider this possibility - designing a building that generates oxygen, distills water, provides a habitat for thousands of species, collects solar energy as fuel, grows food, and looks beautiful. Sound impossible? Well, it's not.‚?Ě
She describes how the University of South Carolina recently opened the world's largest green dorm - built with much recycled material, from cement blocks and copper roof to interior carpeting. Students and faculty help grow and plant drought-resistant, low-growing greenery as part of its water management system. The new West Quad dorm cost $30.9 million, no more than if built conventionally, and includes a turf roof, a learning center for its 500 residents that is partially powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, and a caf√© that sells healthy foods and environmentally sound products. West Quad uses 45 percent less energy and 20 percent less water (heated by solar energy) than the other dorms and is free of ozone-depleting substances.
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE TRANSFORMATION
What accounts for the amazing growth of businesses owned and managed by women? One explanation has to do with potential rewards. Challenges still face women 40 years after sex discrimination became illegal. A recent study by psychology professor Hilary Lips found that the higher a woman's educational level and the pay scale in her field, the wider this earning gap! In Fortune 500 companies, women now hold half of all managerial and professional positions but make up only 8 percent of executive vice-presidents or above.
Pollsters Celinda Lake and Kelly-anne Conway's surveys in What Women Really Want found that women entrepreneurs are among the most philanthropically active businesses; over half give $25,000 or more a year to charity, while 70 percent volunteer in their communities at least once a month. Lake and Conway quote a study of 353 Fortune 500 companies that demonstrates that companies with a higher representation of women in senior management positions financially outperform companies with fewer women at the top. ‚??So as long as inequality and glass ceilings persist in corporate America, women will continue to embrace the opportunities and freedoms of entrepreneurship. With the 19 million jobs women have created so far, that's good news for the economy and society.‚?Ě
Copyright 2007, The JG Press
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Midwest Book Review/Bookwatch
Modern businesses who would conduct ethical operations must read Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy, which is based on a popular television series and covers an 'alternative' business strategy rapidly moving into the mainstream. The green economy already exists, and Ethical Markets covers its foundations, from the impact and nature of community investing to shareholder activists enacting change from within. An inspirational, revealing survey, Ethical Markets needs to be part of any serious business library: it's a recipe for and predictor of the future.
Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy
Hazel Henderson. Chelsea Green, $30 (280p) ISBN 978-1-933392-23-3 In this companion to the television series of the same name, economist Henderson delivers an optimistic overview of socially responsible, environmentally sensitive businesses, investors and visionaries. Keeping an eye on the "triple bottom line" that adds "people" and "planet" to the usual focus on "profits," the book divides "cleaner, greener, more ethical and more female sectors of our U.S. economy" into three areas: lifestyles of health and sustainability, socially responsible investing and corporate social responsibility. An economist with a long history of activism in "redefining success" (for example, revamping the GDP to include environmental capital and unpaid labor such as child-rearing), Henderson adeptly packs large amounts of information into chapters within her expertise. Discussion of topics that are further from her experience, such as green building and the health care system, tends to careen from problems to solutions so quickly that a reader can become confused. The interviews after each chapter, meant to show how CEOs are "walking the talk," seem to be taken unedited from the TV show, coming across as incoherent and shallow. Fortunately, the book is crammed with Web references that can offer a fuller picture to readers tantalized by this glimpse of the economic revolution thriving below the radar of mainstream media. (Mar.)