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September 21, 2009

A Call to Action from Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz

World Savers

by Julia Bainbridge

In 2006, Timberland introduced an industry-first "nutrition label" with information about its shoes' "ingredients." The company launched a Green index, as well, to measure the environmental impact of its products.

Today, Timberland President and CEO Jeffrey B. Swartz spoke at the World Savers Congress. But not before receiving two great introductions.

One, from editor in chief Klara Glowczerwska, outlined some of his successes: "Under his leadership, the company has grown from $156 million in revenue 1989 to more than $1.4 billion in 2008."

Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean said, "He has a lot of swagger."

And he does. So much so, in fact, that all his great quotes were hard to get down on paper fast enough. Here's the gist:

"I'm sitting back listening to the CEOsyouand you're talking about social justice as part of what you do, he said. "And I'm thinking, Hey, this is a pretty good day here in NYC for a Red Sox fan.'"

But Swartz's biggest question: If the marketplace is involved, how come the socioeconomic gaps are getting bigger?

"You can create in people an aspirationshow them another world they can be transported to, where they can feel good," he told the travel industry leaders in attendance. "Travel liberates peoples' imaginations and gives them a change to soar. You have power. Use it responsibly. Please continue to use the power audaciously."

"The three important letters are to me are not CEO, they're DAD. I have a responsibility to my kids and you do, too."

We can talk about it all day long, said Swartz, but only if we go together can we change things.

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