Earlier this week, Ethisphere visited the Milliken & Company headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We caught up with President and CEO J. Harold Chandler and discussed the company’s 150-year commitment to “doing good”.

(L-R) Agnes Peele; John Milliken; J. Harold Chandler; Tim Erblich; and Jan Russell.

Milliken recently celebrated its 11th year on Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list by hosting an award presentation at the South Carolina headquarters attended by Mr. Chandler, members of the board of directors, Spartanburg Mayor Junie White, and Bill Barnet, CEO of Northside Development Group.

Here’s the full interview with J. Harold Chandler, President and CEO of Milliken:

Q: Milliken has been on our World’s Most Ethical Companies list for 11-consecutive years— what does this honor mean to you and Milliken?

Mr. Chandler: We at Milliken are extremely proud to have been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the 11th consecutive year. Honesty, integrity and ethical behavior lie at the core of our company values. Our associates and owners share an extraordinarily strong commitment to ethical behavior, and it is this shared commitment that we are honored to celebrate with this highly-esteemed distinction.

Q: Why is this recognition important to Milliken and what does it say about the company’s culture?

Mr. Chandler: Milliken is, fortunately, a very healthy company culturally. The atmosphere is quite competitive, and we are driven by growth, but not at any cost. We recognize that how we grow is as important as how much we grow. This is an integral belief that each Milliken associate holds, and that directs their work daily. We seek opportunities for meaningful work, work that is guided by our foundational values and a commitment from our associates to act with integrity. Additionally, we invest in more than just our products. We support the communities where we live and work and strive to be a good corporate citizen and neighbor. For example, our 600-acre corporate campus is a noted arboretum that is open to the public and our associates donate many hours of volunteer work each year.

In an effort to further its strategic community impact, Milliken also gave Ethisphere an exclusive look at a one-of-a-kind redevelopment initiative. Led by the Northside Development Group this project was designed to boost economic, educational, recreational, health and social opportunities for Northside residents. Here’s more on Twitter.

Q: Can you tell me more about Milliken’s 150-year commitment to “doing good”? 

J. Harold Chandler, President and CEO of Milliken.

Mr. Chandler: Our legacy has always been to innovate, to combine science with unique product features. We strive to provide solutions that add value to people’s lives, improve health and safety, and make this world more sustainable. In fact, long before “sustainability” entered our everyday language, Milliken understood that a living enterprise and a living earth were inextricably linked. As early as the early 1900’s we were reusing packaging and textile materials in our operations and documented our first recycling policy. By the late 1900’s Milliken developed a comprehensive plan to eliminate waste, increase product performance and preserve resources—years before the first clean air and water acts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed.

Q: As the CEO and Chairman, what do ethics and integrity mean to you? 

Mr. Chandler: Ethics and integrity are important to me because they shape who I am as a leader. I am committed to honoring our more than 7,000 associates by holding their leaders accountable. We use agreed upon, achievable expectations and remove obstacles to support the progress of our individual associates and their teams. I encourage alignment, engagement and transparent communication. Our leadership team works to be respectful, considerate and courteous so that we bring out the best in others. We hope to fuel innovation and teamwork by embracing the diversity of our community and individual perspectives. It is these leadership qualities and expectations that I hope will support our next 150 years of success.

Missed our 2017 World’s Most Ethical Companies Gala in NYC? See what you missed on Flickr.