expert on ethical leadership analyzes the complicated history of
business people who tried to marry the pursuit of profits with virtuous
organizational practices--from British industrialist Robert Owen to
American retailer John Cash Penney and jeans maker Levi Strauss to such
modern-day entrepreneurs Anita Roddick and Tom Chappell.
business leaders are increasingly pressured by citizens, consumers, and
government officials to address urgent social and environmental issues.
Although some corporate executives remain deaf to such calls, over the
last two centuries, a handful of business leaders in America and Britain
have attempted to create business organizations that were both
profitable and socially responsible.
In The Enlightened Capitalists, James O'Toole tells the
largely forgotten stories of men and women who adopted forward-thinking
business practices designed to serve the needs of their employees,
customers, communities, and the natural environment. They wanted to
prove that executives didn't have to make trade-offs between profit and
Combining a wealth of research and vivid storytelling, O'Toole brings
life to historical figures like William Lever, the inventor of bar soap
who created the most profitable company in Britain and used his money
to greatly improve the lives of his workers and their families.
Eventually, he lost control of the company to creditors who promptly
terminated the enlightened practices he had initiated--the fate of many
As a new generation attempts to address social problems through
enlightened organizational leadership, O'Toole explores a major question
being posed today in Britain and America: Are virtuous corporate
practices compatible with shareholder capitalism?