The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist

When Girl Meets Oil

Christine Bader

There is an invisible army of people deep inside the world’s biggest and best-known companies, pushing for safer and more responsible practices. They are trying to prevent the next Rana Plaza factory collapse, the next Deepwater Horizon explosion, the next Foxconn labor abuses. Obviously, they don’t always succeed.

Christine Bader was one of those people. She loved BP and then-CEO John Browne’s lofty rhetoric on climate change and human rightsuntil a string of fatal BP accidents, Browne’s abrupt resignation under a cloud of scandal, and the start of Tony Hayward’s tenure as chief executive, which would end with the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Bader’s story of working deep inside the belly of the beast is unique in its details, but not in its themes: of feeling like an outsider both inside the company (accused of being a closet activist) and out (assumed to be a corporate shill); of getting mixed messages from senior management; of being frustrated with corporate life but committed to pushing for change from within.

The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil is based on Bader’s experience with BP and then with a United Nations effort to prevent and address human rights abuses linked to business. Using her story as its skeleton, Bader weaves in the stories of other “Corporate Idealists” working inside some of the world’s biggest and best-known companies.

Print | 978-1-937134-88-4 | $26.95
eBook | 978-1-937134-89-1 | $19.99
Enhanced eBook | 978-1-937134-90-7 | $19.99
5.5 X 8.5 hardcover | 264 pages
March 25, 2014

Media Coverage

  • 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, SEC; former chairman and chief executive, New York Stock Exchange; 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 burgeoning field of corporate social responsibility.
    John G. Ruggie, Harvard University; former United Nations 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
  • 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
  • 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