More than 400 business leaders and educators from over 40 countries met on the Case Western Reserve University campus as part of a United Nations Global Compact forum in October 2006, bringing together the corporate and academic worlds in the corporate responsibility movement.
Now, the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit or BAWB is again bringing the Global Compact to campus, this time on a regional level. This first meeting of the United Nations Global Compact Northeast Ohio Network on Thursday, November 29, will mark the beginning of an opportunity to position the region as a leading hub for sustainability.
The event is hosted by Chuck Fowler, president and CEO of Fairmount Minerals, and David Cooperrider, Fairmount Minerals Professor in Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management and founder and chair of BAWB. It will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the George S. Dively Building, 11240 Bellflower Road.
Case Western Reserve and BAWB were asked in 2004 by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan and the U.N. to facilitate the first-ever meeting of business leaders at the U.N. with the purpose of joining the resources of society’s most influential sectors to solve world problems.
Cooperrider used his renowned method of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to guide the dialogue of the U.N., 500 CEOs and numerous civil society organizations resulting in such outcomes as a $13 trillion investment from the financial community in solving environmental and societal issues.
The November 29 meeting will also feature a senior U.N. leader, Soren Peterson, head of local networks; one of two coordinators of the North American Global Compact; Cecily Joseph, director, corporate responsibility, legal and public affairs at Symantec Corporation; and Paul Alsenas, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission director.
The United Nations Global Compact has 4,000 worldwide corporate members, including corporations such as Coca-Cola and Microsoft, and is the world's leading network of organizations and businesses dedicated to social responsibility. Purely a voluntary initiative, the Global Compact asks companies to influence human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption through a set of core values.
"Why have so many of the world's leading corporations joined the United Nations Global Compact," Cooperrider said. "And more importantly, what benefits and strengths are there for Northeast Ohio companies? We want to look at how the Global Compact can place our region on the map and strengthen our economy."
Fairmount Minerals was the first business organization in the region to join the Global Compact. The company recently was named a No. 1 Corporate Citizen by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Local networks work within a geographic context (region or country) with participants coming together to advance the Global Compact and its 10 founding principles. Currently, 47 countries have local networks while another 16 are in development.
"You cannot do sustainability in the abstract. Deep-rooted sustainability needs to be 'place based,'" Alsenas said. "What we are now working on is to network organizations in a very specific way in service of "this place,' Northeast Ohio."
At the 2006 BAWB Forum, the Global Compact conceived the Principles for Responsible Management Education, which were further developed by an international task force and unveiled in July 2007 with the endorsement of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
These principles provide a framework for colleges and universities to advance corporate social responsibility through management education and research.
"We think this is a huge opportunity for us to make sustainability the key driver for this region," said Ante Glavas, executive director for BAWB. "Imagine the impact we can have by leveraging the strengths of the private sector together with those of the U.N., academic sector, government…the U.N. Global Compact is a platform to do just that."
A brief discussion and information on how to join the Global Compact will immediately follow the speakers at the event, which begins at 4:30 p.m. and is expected to attract nearly 100 organizations. A reception will follow.
More information on the November 29 event is available online.
Read more about the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.