We as business leaders, as decision makers, above all, as citizens, need to understand the Impact of our actions, decisions and more importantly, of our non-actions. In order for businesses to achieve their goals and contribute to a growing society, the business world needs to understand the problems of Climate Change, Poverty, Hunger, Gender Inequality and Global Health Concerns plaguing the world as a whole. We wanted to take an active role in engaging our fellow classmates in engaging in discussions about these critical questions so that as young professionals we are better prepared to act in a way that helps create solutions, rather than just keeping the status quo–or making the problems worse.
Founded in 2001, the IESE Responsible Business Club serves as a conduit for communication and collaboration between the students, the school, its alumni and industry professionals interested and active in responsible business, social entrepreneurship, social investment and the not-for-profit industry. One of the key events we put on is the IESE Doing Good Doing Well Conference. The Doing Good and Doing Well Conference (DGDW) is a two-day event with interactive panel discussions on major opportunities and challenges faced by responsible businesses and organizations. The conference, organized by IESEâ€™s Responsible Business Club, attracts professionals and students from around the globe. By challenging participants to consider the potential for sustainable development, the Doing Good and Doing Well Conference helps develop innovative new strategies and business. In its ninth year, the conference decided to partner with the Oath Project to integrate the oath into its theme and encourage attendees to sign their commitment to act.
As a group, we brainstormed the main questions we wanted students to think critically about. We came up with the following as key questions:
1) How can we continue to grow while creating a positive impact on the above mentioned problems?
2) What actions can we take and which must we not take?
3) How must we change our business strategy to address the needs at the bottom of the pyramid?
4) What will make our businesses sustainable even in the long term?
We used these to guide the theme of the conference and built plenary sessions, keynotes, and panels around them. We worked with the Oath Project to build a panel and then created a conference community oath signing board to have attendees sign.
It worked really well to have the oath at the conference because it allowed attendees of our conference and members of our classes to solidify the energy, excitement and inspiration the activities and sessions created. All too often, the energy of these great conferences dissipates after the conference concludes–the signing of the oath helps attendees to take the first step (of many!) to turning the learning of the conference into action. People also really liked the ability to make this type of commitment as part of a community of like-minded individuals in the midst of great sessions. It was great to work with the Oath Project so that there could be immediate follow up with attendees about how they could as individuals put their commitment into action. People liked the idea that this community included current students, graduating MBAs, young professionals, thought leaders, and seasoned professionals.