Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are known for their cleaning power, but are increasingly getting known for their political power. The CEO of the company is a good example of a leader that practices what he believes – and leverages the company to ensure his thoughts are shared. In one example, David Bronner, has capped all executive pay at his company to be five times the lowest paid employee.
He’s in getting news right now for his support of labelling genetically modified organisms sold in stores. In the past, he also took the government to court over their insane anti-hemp laws. One interesting fellow and company!
Limiting executive pay and spending virtually nothing on advertising left a lot of extra cash for improving the products and funding social campaigns—which have often gone hand-in-hand. For years, the soap had included an undisclosed ingredient, caramel coloring. As the new CEO, Bronner wanted to remove it for the sake of purity, but feared that die-hard customers would assume the new guy was watering down the product. So he decided to incorporate hemp oil, which added a caramel color while also achieving a smoother lather. But there was a hitch: A few months after he’d acquired a huge stockpile of Canadian hemp oil, the Bush administration outlawed most hemp products. “Technically, we were sitting on tens of thousands of pounds of Schedule I narcotics,” Bronner recalls.
Rather than destroy the inventory, he sued the Drug Enforcement Agency to change its stance on hemp, which comes from a nonpsychoactive strain of cannabis. Adam Eidinger, who now heads the company’s activism efforts in Washington, DC, served DEA agents at agency HQ bagels covered with poppy seeds (which, in theory, could be used to make heroin) and orange juice (which naturally contains trace amounts of alcohol). In 2004, a federal court handed Bronner a victory, striking down the ban and allowing him to keep his stores of hemp oil.