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Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love + Death by China: Confronting the Dragon - A Global Call to Action + What Would Drucker Do Now?: Solutions to Today’s Toughest Challenges from the Father of Modern Management
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807000949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807000946
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Hawthorne's research provides clear, rational insights into our ethical choices, empowering us to be savvy shoppers.”—Kirkus Reviews

Ethical Chic will change the way you see the products lining the supermarket shelves, and even maybe the supermarket itself.” —Michael Blanding, author of The Coke Machine
 
“Highly recommended.”—John Rodzvilla, Library Journal, starred review

“Fran Hawthorne’s illuminating book will delight fans of 'corporate social responsibility'—and enrage its critics. Her descriptions of Apple, for example, at once beloved and much criticized by the CSR crowd, aptly captures the essence of the debate.”—Adam Lashinsky, author of Inside Apple

“In assessing corporate performance on social responsibility, Fran Hawthorne digs beneath the surface of some of America’s most beloved companies. Given the multiple dimensions of sustainability and ethical performance, it can come as no surprise that she finds no company is perfect. But there are differences. Bravo to Ethical Chic for helping to illuminate which companies are on the right track.”—Daniel C. Esty, co-author of Green to Gold

“A very informative look.”—Booklist

Ethical Chic is a lively and engaging look at the environmental, labor, and social practices of six legendary US companies. It’s a must-read for any consumer interested in spending their money in socially conscious ways.”—Sally Greenberg, executive director, National Consumers League
 

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Fran Hawthorne has been a writer or editor at For­tune, BusinessWeek, Institutional Investor, and other publications. She is the author of four other books, including Inside the FDA, Pension Dumping, and The Overloaded Liberal. She lives with her family in New York City.

More About the Author

Award-winning journalist Fran Hawthorne, the author of "Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies we Think We Love" (Beacon Press, 2012), has been a writer or editor at Fortune, BusinessWeek, Institutional Investor, and other publications. She is the author of three books on health care and investing, including Inside the FDA and Pension Dumping.

Photographer Copyright Credit Name: Leonard Yakir, 2012.

Customer Reviews

The book is also so well written that it's a pleasure to read.
Barbara
Personally, I always think every corporation is in it to make money, and any kind of "aura" they have otherwise is just a function of marketing.
C. P. Anderson
A number of my friends bought the book and have been very impressed.
fred ciporen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barbara on August 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ethical Chic is a must-read for the discerning consumer because it gets behind the facade of our assumptions about some major companies. For instance, I always assumed Trader Joe's was organic because ... well, when you look into it, as Ethical Chic does, there was no reason beyond its cute image. Fran Hawthorne analyzes how TJ has promoted the phony image of being a neighborhood store (did you know it was owned by a German conglomerate?) and item by item, just how much really is organic.What a provocative, informative (and fun-to-read) eye opener!
The book is also so well written that it's a pleasure to read. I was hooked from the first chapter, with its novelistic description of the Tom of Tom's of Maine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Anderson on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Okay, admit it. You're a die-hard Apple, or Starbucks, or Trader Joe's, or whatever fan. You love the product and also like that smug feeling you get from shopping at someplace that has a reputation for being pretty progressive. Here's the thing ... Is that place really as cool and hip as it appears to be?

Hawthorne looks at several favorite retailers - the above 3, Timberland, American Apparel, Tom's of Maine, and a couple of others. She looks at them in a number of different dimensions - how they treat their employees, how they treat the environment, how they interact with their community, how much they share about themselves, and more. She does a great job of really getting into the specifics and also really telling a good story. Did you know, for example, that Trader Joe's is owned by two very secretive (I'm talking Howard Hughes style here) German billionaire brothers? Or that Tom's of Maine is owned by Colgate and sold at Walmart?

Personally, I always think every corporation is in it to make money, and any kind of "aura" they have otherwise is just a function of marketing. Nice to know that that pretty much applies across the board.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carol Pierson Holding on September 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: Fran Hawthorne interviewed me for this book, so I may be biased. But I was hooked from the opening salvo, two descriptions of corporate behavior at the opposite extremes of social responsibility - and it's the same company. Her question is an important one in this era of complex social issues: is it possible for a company to be trendy and socially responsible too? What I appreciated was her willingness to share her processes for selecting the six companies she studies and for determining "the reality" of each at the end. What I loved was her skill in telling good tales -- from details about the sex life of one CEO to the deeply spiritual life of another -- combined with command of how business works and arcane facts (who knew the detailed process for tanning leather?) In the end, the author questions the whole exercise in light of the biggest driver of all the ills CSR is intended to counter: the basic philosophy of consumerism. But where she comes out is that there are many discreet issues that companies can tackle "one acre of rainforest at a time," whether or not they're deemed socially responsible overall. A great addition to the CSR canon - and a fun read too.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A highly enjoyable book, well-researched and engagingly written. Fran Hawthorne is a first-rate business reporter blessed with a sense of humor and a very accessible style.

"In this age of consumer activism, pinpoint marketing, and unlimited and immediate information," she writes, "we want the impossible: products and producers that will assure us that we are fashionable, and that don't pollute, harm animals, or contain weird chemicals, that run on alternative energy, pay their workers good salaries, recycle their scraps, use natural ingredients, buy from local suppliers, donate generously to charity." We think some companies deliver it all, too. Hawthorne shows us the complex reality behind the image at a handful of successful companies. 'Ethical Chic' is an astute and entertaining reality check.
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By Patrick McCarty on January 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fran has written a book that enables everyday consumers to make a difference. She looks at the companies with the glossiest patina of social responsibility and presents the facts on the ground, often a mixed and disturbing picture. Starbucks, she details, didn't succeed in creating community, not by a long shot. Apple, while coming to the game relatively late, has a better record on supply chain issues than most. This is an indispensable read. I hear Fran on a radio program, and I had to buy the book. She is a national treasure.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Consumers “want an affordable, reliable product manufactured by a company that doesn’t pollute, saves energy, treats its workers well, and doesn’t hurt animals—oh, and that makes them feel cool when they use it.” But do hip companies really deliver against these often competing objectives? The author examines six brand favourites: Apple, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, American Apparel, Timberland, and Tom’s of Maine. Can a brand be hip, ethical and profitable … and remain relevant? If so, have we been led to believe they are awesome but they are in fact not too different from the vast majority of businesses that are simply mediocre. The book delightfully explores what is fact and what is marketing.
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By Brian on October 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The author not only shares some valuable insights into the specific companies reviewed, but also does a solid job of exploring the difficulties of trying to be a socially conscious consumer.
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