At a time when "the bottom line" is the sole, definitive yardstick among many major corporations, it's refreshing to see a top executive who understands that true success carries with it a greater responsibility than the annual report to shareholders.
In donating $1 million to build an environmental research center at Utah State University, Jon Huntsman has taken a long look at the world. Much of it is littered with a variety of industrial or byproduct waste, including plastic products that don't easily decompose and fluorocarbons that result when polystyrene products are produced, harming the ozone layer.As chairman of a company that produces plastics, it would be easy for Huntsman to assume the stance that many leaders in other potentially-polluting industries have taken - that the environment is somebody else's problem. Instead, Huntsman has extended his vision beyond the executive board room, labeling preservation of the environment "the single most important issue facing the world today."
The new center at USU will oversee and fund research into four areas of concern: recycling, improved air quality, degradability and conservation of trees. While research may well benefit Huntsman's company in the long term - for example, by finding ways to viably recycle plastic foam containers - the center will pursue comprehensive solutions to environmental problems beyond the scope of the plastics manufacturer.
Huntsman's gift, and his pledge to establish other research centers elsewhere, is a commitment to do business the way it should be done - with integrity. It's an example his colleagues elsewhere would do well to follow.