Interface — A Restorative Enterprise

In: BlogDate: Jun 28, 2013By: Henry Stewart

The biggest impact most companies have on society is through the products they sell, the people they employ and the suppliers they buy from. And, of course, the effect on the environment of producing their products. If you are really committed to having a positive effect on society, that is where to start.

There are examples of major corporations that have changed. One of the most inspiring is the carpet corporation Interface and its Chief Executive, Ray Anderson. His conversion moment came in 1997, when he was asked to give a talk on the environment to sales staff. His first reaction was simply to state ‘We obey the law’, the standard defence of corporations across the world.

Reading up for his talk, he underwent a transformation: ‘I was running a company that was plundering the earth. I thought, “Damn, some day people like me will be put in jail!”’ The company set itself the mission of becoming a ‘restorative enterprise’, with a positive effect on the environment, by 2020.

Interface’s definition of this goal does not lack ambition: ‘To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions. People, process, place and profits – by 2020 – and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.’

The programme has brought direct financial benefits. The waste elimination programme alone has resulted in $433 million of savings for the company. But the key lesson is that, whatever company we work for or run, we have a choice. We can decide to have a positive effect on the world.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

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