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  • Dean Williamson

An Open Letter to the CEO: Evolution is here - embrace change!

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Dear CEO,

The world is changing. As a leader, a watcher of the environment, and a forecaster of things to come, you know this.

Business keeps evolving - we're moving further and further into an increasingly complex world. And in this escalating complexity, you're having to wrestle with more and more. We're talking about things like ethics, consumer expectations around transparency and sustainability, employee engagement, workplace flexibility, devolved power, and employee wellbeing as a litigation risk. In this world, the old ways just don't work anymore.

We are writing this to urge you to go with it. Your work and workplace can be personally fulfilling and wholesome for you and all of your staff. You can achieve sustainability and ethical outcomes without compromising your business model. You can also morally navigate the multitude of challenges which face your organisation without deferring to overly rigid and out-dated hierarchy and procedures.

There are hundreds of examples of organisations leading this values-based evolution

There are hundreds of examples of organisations leading this values-based evolution in ways that suit their organisation. Look at Patagonia, a for-profit outdoor apparel company that includes a social and environmental purpose. They gave 100% of their Black Friday sales one year to world-wide environmental charities. They surpassed their expected sales target that day by five-fold! They have a 100% return-to-work rate for woman after maternity leave – employees want to be there (and never want to leave). They’re also not afraid to make big changes, risking a product line that totals 20% of their business, in order to switch to an organic product (p.s. the change was worth it). They have environmental and social responsibility AND a healthy bottom line… Win win.

How about TOMS? Blake Mycoskie developed a company with a one-for-one concept. Someone buys a pair of shoes, and TOMS gives a pair to a child in need, and then they grew into eye-wear, coffee and handbags. Throughout 70 countries, TOMS have given over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need, have helped restore sight to over 400,000 people, have provided over 335,000 weeks of safe water and supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers. Yet, they’re a financially profitable company who has surpassed being a brand – they’ve become a movement.

Ok, so these are popular fashion brands – you can see how they might get the support… So let’s turn to an example a little less flashy… Tinned tomatoes… Have you heard of Morning Star? They’re the world’s largest tomato processing company, with 600 employees and an additional 4,000 in harvest time, and the organisation is a self-managing organisation… No hierarchy! There are no senior managers, no HR department, yet they have a 40% share of the tomato market in the US. There’s too much amazing-ness happening in this company to explain here, but they operate from values and trust, and staff don’t leave!

So if you’re sitting here thinking, “I want my organisation to do better, but I don’t want to sacrifice our bottom line,” good news… You don’t have to. You can be an ethical company - one that gives back, while still creating the profits you need. It starts with culture, with clarity, and purpose.

We help organisations become places people want to be at, want to work hard for, and places that employees are proud to shout about! Join the movement and move your organisation into a place with authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.

The first point of change is you.

Yours sincerely,

Dean Williamson and Megan Storey

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