The public has high expectations for business leaders and their companies to do good things that improve the world. Protecting the environment is one of those expectations. And an ever-growing number of CEOs are taking on the task and making it part of their core corporate strategy.
Borg Warner’s James Verrier tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that when he became CEO in 2013 he gave serious thought to what’s commonly called “leading with purpose” and he decided to redefine the vision of the auto parts company. The mission was changed from being a “global products technology leader” to making a “clean energy efficient world.” Verrier says his company changed its focus to design parts that could be used in electric and hybrid vehicles. There was a push to using solar panels and other energy-saving technologies in Borg Warner factories. He says the changes have had a profound impact at Borg Warner: “I can assure you that as we’ve done that and made that transition, people inside the company think differently.”
It is a common theme in a series of CEO interviews Fortune conducted in partnership with The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/business-and-society-program/purpose-of-the-corporation/).
Lutron Electronics and Arrow Electronic are two other companies that are addressing environmental issues as part of their core business strategies. Lutron has developed energy efficient technology used to dim lights that results in dramatic energy conservation. It saves over 10 billion kilowatt hours a year which is the equivalent of reducing seven million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Arrow not only designs electronic components and computer products, it now has a business to deal with so-called “end of life electronics”. Its value recovery business repurposes and resells those old electronics and in the process prevents millions of tons from being dumped into landfills. Michael Long proudly describes Arrow as a “green company” saying “leading with purpose for us means guiding technology in a way that helps others.”