Inauguration Day: Thoughts from our CEO Jim Osgood

January 19 2017

Our CEO Jim Osgood shares some words on change, responsibility and action in the context of Inauguration Day.  

As the Presidential Inauguration this Friday draws near, change is in the air. Change can inspire innovation.  For many, change is uncomfortable. It can leave questions and stir fear.

As a business leader, father, CEO and community member, the rawness of conversation spurred by our upcoming administration is unprecedented in my lifetime and initially left me at a loss for words. As Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The responsibility I feel to our employee-owned company, our non-profit partners and our community at large is both overwhelming and inspiring. While this is a time of reflection, it’s also a time to organize around the issues we care about. To drive meaningful change, our voices must be tied to action.  And the impact of our actions is far greater through united efforts with common cause.

Our commitment at Klean Kanteen is to use business as a force for good. We’ve been a 1% for the Planet member since 2008, and we’ve donated nearly $2 million to environmental nonprofits working to protect wild places. We joined the B Corp community in 2012, which now includes over 2,000 businesses, including many publically-traded companies.  More than just financial support, we’re personally engaged in helping educate, promote and advance responsible and lasting policy to protect and ensure clean water and public land use for all.  Fundamentally, we believe our business exists to create positive change in our world.

The B Corp movement focuses on interdependence. Collectively, we believe that responsible business matters, and together we have the power to create social change. Now more than ever, we must be the change we seek in the world. Through products, practices and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and to create benefit for all. To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another, and thus responsible for each other and future generations. 

When I joined Klean Kanteen as CEO and President over five years ago, I was heartened by a family that from the beginning, has and will always be committed to creating positive environmental and social impact. It’s written into our mission, our vision, our core values and our bylaws – but most importantly, it’s in the fabric of everything we do. While companies like Klean have historically been a minority, our community of like-minded businesses is growing and our voice is growing louder and affecting greater change, together.

This is what we stand for.  United in cause and inspired by action.  As a global business committed to positive social change, we will not cower behind fear-based tactics and we will not be silenced. We are stronger and more committed to our mission than ever.

Above all, we urge you to organize, to gather together, mobilize and use your voice.  Your voice matters.  You can make a powerful difference with simple, daily choices.  As they say, “vote with your wallet” – buy brands that reflect you and what you believe in.

And, I encourage all businesses to consider their impact and influence – beyond profit. For more information on the B Corp movement and how to become a B Corporation, please visit www.bcorporation.net.

-Jim Osgood