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The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil Hardcover – March 25, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist is a quick read, effortlessly gulped during a long airplane flight. The writing is clear and concise, and if the book doesn’t leave one convinced that every multinational has suddenly developed a guiding conscience, it does offer some encouragement that many are on the way." —The New York Times

“Christine Bader's The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist paints a vivid picture of the changing world of business, the rise of sustainability as a value in many companies, and the author's own awakening to the complexity of corporate responsibility. Written as a lively and compelling narrative, the book goes beyond recounting Bader's ups and downs in a decade at BP to offer deep insight into the central importance of morality in any job, company, or life.” —Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor, Yale University; author, Green to Gold

“Business must be part of the solution to the complex challenges facing our planet. This requires authentic and committed leaders at all levels within a company working together to help make this a reality. In The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil, Christine Bader gives us a firsthand account of what it takes to get this right and provides some salutary lessons about what it means when companies get it wrong.” —Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

“Companies increasingly recognize that they have a legitimate interest in respecting human rights. Christine Bader has been on the front lines of both setting and implementing human rights standards for business, and provides an engaging narrative of what it takes to ensure that human rights are a reality for all.” —Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

“With insight and humor, Christine Bader sheds light on the inner workings of multinational business. The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist is a must-read for all of us who care about ensuring that ethics and morality have their rightful place on the business agenda.” —William H. Donaldson, 27th chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; co-founder, former chairman and CEO, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

"For all those who have seen what multinational corporations are doing and wondered, "What were they thinking?" — read this book! Bader takes us deep inside big business, past the slick P.R. and newspaper headlines. Whether you resonate with the title "Corporate Idealist" or think it’s an oxymoron, this book is a fascinating read. Love Big Oil or hate it, you'll never look at it the same." —Annie Leonard, Founder, The Story of Stuff Project

"Christine Bader writes as she is: genuine, funny, compassionate, on a constant search for truth and impact. The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil is a unique and valuable contribution to one of the greatest challenges of the modern era: how to leverage the creativity and drive of business to achieve a just and sustainable world." —Aron Cramer, President and CEO, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)

"Too many companies — and the investors and consumers that support them — still take a short-term, narrow view that is threatening our planet; the 'sustainability' movement has often felt like one step forward, two steps back. In The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil, Christine Bader gives us an insider's perspective on why that is the case. I relate to her struggle between optimism and pessimism, and suspect many others will too." —Jeffrey Hollender, founder and former CEO, Seventh Generation

"The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist is a deeply personal reflection on a vastly neglected subject: the hopes and successes, disappointments and disillusionments, of corporate social responsibility practitioners in global companies. Christine Bader recounts her own journey, starting with infatuation and fulfillment, to feeling jilted, experimenting with taming capitalism through the United Nations, and ending up back in the private sector, a bit bruised but considerably wiser. This makes for an eminently readable introduction to the bourgeoning field of corporate social responsibility." —John G. Ruggie, Harvard University; former U.N. special representative for business & human rights

"Girl meets Big Oil, Big Oil breaks girl's heart. So far, so predictable. But Christine Bader's extraordinary, warts-and-all memoir reveals what happens when idealism and business converge in both the heart and the mind." —John Elkington, co-founder of Environmental Data Services (ENDS), SustainAbility and Volans; co-author, The Power of Unreasonable People.

"Bader’s memoir is a refreshing change from the many business books—including others on the same topic of corporate responsibility and related themes—that consist of faceless management frameworks and to-do lists. There is nothing abstract about her tale of an idealistic young woman falling in and out of love with the BP corporation, and coming to terms with its complexity." —Ann Graham, contributing editor at strategy + business

About the Author

Christine Bader is a sought-after speaker, lecturer, and advisor on corporate responsibility. She is a Human Rights Advisor to BSR and a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the boards of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and The OpEd Project. Her work with BP from 1999 until 2008 brought her to Indonesia, China, and the U.K., managing the social impacts of some of the company's largest projects in the developing world.
Christine has published numerous op-eds and articles and given talks to conferences, companies, and universities around the world, including a TEDx talk entitled "Manifesto for the Corporate Idealist." She lives in her native New York City with her husband and two children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Bibliomotion (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937134881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937134884
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you have ever considered the occasionally heart-breaking, intermittently maligned, mostly fascinating life of working within companies to create the change you wish to see in the world, BUY THIS BOOK.

I have been a Corporate Idealist for over a decade, after a peripatetic meander through law, business and the nonprofit world, and I have never read any book that quite captured the agony and the ecstasy of this calling. Most books about social responsibility (and it’s not a big library. I have them all. . .) are about the work itself, or about tactics.

Girl Meets Oil is about what it is actually like to be within the belly of the beast. It’s about being perceived as compromised or hypocritical by NGOs, while being barely tolerated as that bleeding heart pain in the ass at work. Of course, the work is not all or even mostly bad—Girl Meets Oil talks about those moments of grace, of realizing that the work you have been doing has actually made a difference, for one person, or for millions of people.

For those of us who do this work, this will be like that Roberta Flack song—Ms. Bader is strumming your pain with her fingers, singing your life with her words. It is an instant classic, and notable for being the first of its kind. And if you are still in school, and considering what this life and work are like, Ms Bader is the perfect guide. I am so often asked “What is it like? What is the right career path if I want to do corporate social responsibility, or human rights at a company?” The beauty of this book is that Ms. Bader draws from so many stories while sharing her own, and after reading, one realizes that there is no set path, that being a Corporate Idealist requires so many different competencies and subject matter backgrounds, and that there are many opportunities to change the world while wearing a corporate logo on your chest.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Christine Bader's funny,moving and riveting account of her time with BP makes for interesting and fast paced reading,and you don't have to be in the oil business to appreciate it. Far from it, in fact. The book demonstrates the tension between the 'fix the world' imperative and the need for business, and it lays out this tension in clear and thoughtful ways, allowing advocates and human rights activists to put a human face on corporations, and allowing corporations to gain insight into the frustrations of local communities often marginalized by the processes of globalization.
The chapter on Indonesia for example offered honest, sobering anecdotes about BP's work in West Papua, where community consultations certainly did not stop the company's project altogether (and, frankly, didn't alter it much at all) but offered more than symbolic support for taking into account the local community's voices. One thing I would have liked to see more of was the voices of the local Papuans in reflecting on the consultation process that Bader describes. No doubt there are ethical issues with publicly revealing the comments of local people, but I was struck by the fact that the evaluation of the consultations in the book were made by consultants themselves. Still this is about as honest as you can get. It's refreshing, well written, and funny
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, many people incorrectly believe that an idealist is necessarily "out of touch with reality" when, in fact, idealism and realism are not mutually exclusive. The greatest leaders throughout history were values-driven and attracted followers precisely because of a vision that, without exception, was based on ideals. In this remarkable book, Christine Bader focuses on her nine-year period employment by BP (1999-2008) during which she learned - and now shares -- valuable lessons that contributed to her personal growth as well as her professional development. Hers is indeed a journey of discovery.

Providing some background information is in order. As she explains: "I fell in love with that BP. And BP loved me back, giving me the opportunity to live in Indonesia, working on social issues around a remote gas field; then China, ensuring worker and community safety for a chemicals joint venture; then in the United Kingdom again, collaborating with colleagues around the world to better understand and support human rights.

"BP was paying me to help the people living around its projects, because that in turn would help its business. I was living the cliché of doing well and doing good. and I was completely smitten. My beloved company even let me create a pro bono project advising a United Nations initiative to clarify business's responsibilities for human rights, aimed at creating international policy to help even more people."

These brief excerpts describe "the good BP" during Bader's "best of times." And then Big Oil broke her heart, "the worst of times." She left BP to work on the U.N. project full-time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do you need to check your ideals at the door when you start working for a large corporation? In her new book, The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil, Christine Bader answers that question with a firm NO! But, she warns, don’t expect it to be easy.

Ms. Bader started at BP Oil as a starry-eyed business school graduate expecting to change the world. Her book provides a balanced account of both failures and hard-won successes as she struggled to promote corporate responsibility.

Her writing style is light and breezy, as she interweaves her BP experience with the experiences of other corporate idealists and the lessons she learned. But her message is deadly serious. In light of events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh, the lessons in Ms. Bader’s book, and the ideals it embraces, have never been more important.
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