business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times had an interview over the weekend with Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein, in which he talks about how the Unilever-owned company is dealing with some of the social-cultural issues roiling the country.

Some excerpts:

•  On racial issues…  "It’s a devastating moment, and we’re responding on many different levels. I’m personally sad. I’m outraged by the actions of hate and violence and racism that just keep seem to coming back and back and back at us. George Floyd is the latest example, but there’s Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and sadly we can keep going on. For me, this is really personal. This son of a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family, we know the impact of systemic institutional hate and we need to speak out, but even more we need to take action. I personally stand as an ally with the black community. It’s time for us to both speak out and to take action.

"The Seventh Generation foundation committed $100,000 to the bail project to ensure that protesters and others who are incarcerated aren’t paying a bigger price for expressing the hurt that they’re clearly feeling. We’re also calling on Congress for safe, improved access to voting, which we think is a basic human right."

•  On workplace diversity…  "We started working really closely on inclusion about five years ago. We actually have a work force which is almost 70 percent female. And yet what we were finding when we took a look in the mirror some time ago was that we weren’t seeing women represented on the executive team and our board and the higher levels of management at the same rate that they were present in the country.

"Now we have a leadership team which is 50-50 male-female. So we we’ve made good progress in creating a space where we think that women can succeed.

"Racial diversity has been a bigger challenge for us, to be really frank. When we started our efforts, less than 6 percent of our company were people of color. We’re now at about 16 percent, which is still not anywhere close to what we need to be."

•  On the company's mission…  "It comes back to your values. It comes back to our mission. Seven Generation has a really clear mission, which is about transforming the world into a healthy, sustainable and equitable place for the next seven generations. We use that really as a guiding star for the issues that we want to engage in."