The ouster of Jeffrey Hollender from Seventh Generation—the company Hollender co-founded and helped run for more than 20 years—has triggered a question that has likely perplexed many natural products firms: Can a company retain its values after losing the person who helped develop and evangelize those values?
Hollender, co-author of What Matters Most, has been lauded for his work to clean up the household products industry while building a massive eco-friendly brand that can be found everywhere from Whole Foods Market to Walmart. Many credit him with infusing Seventh Generation with its triple bottom line values and commitment to environmental sustainability. According to several news sources, the Seventh Generation board of directors reportedly voted to remove Hollender during a September meeting.
What this will mean for the Seventh Generation brand and the authenticity consumers ascribe to it is uncertain. My hope is that the company will remain committed to environmental sustainability, transparency and social responsibility—even without Hollender at its helm. I fear, however, that Seventh Generation’s appetite for growth could eat away at what sets the company and its products apart from many of its larger competitors.
Let's hope I'm wrong.