GE Colloquium in Sustainability Leadership
Many have questioned whether corporations can fulfill a social purpose while still earning a profit --- from the early American corporations chartered to serve a public purpose, to Henry Ford’s desire to “spread the benefits of the industrial system to the greatest possible number”, to modern “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) efforts.
However, the operating environment for business has increasingly moved away from encouraging companies to pursue social purposes in their business activities. “General incorporation statutes”, limited liability laws, and changes in the post-war period have lead to a situation in which corporations now mostly act with impunity --- largely free of requirements to serve a public purpose or even report the damages they cause to society and the environment.
Last fall, Pavan Sukhdev a leading expert on the green economy, released the book Corporation 2020: Transforming Business for Tomorrow’s World. In the book, Sukhdev argues that in order for corporations and society alike to survive and thrive, we need to rethink the way the business world works. This requires not just action by corporations, but also the strength of governments directed toward transforming regulations and creating incentives for corporations to change and adapt.
With the clock ticking toward 2020, Sukhdev is returning to Yale a year later to break down how his sweeping vision of how a better corporate model is being realized.
About the Speaker: Pavan Sukhdev, Founder-CEO, GIST Advisory
Pavan Sukhdev is Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory, a consulting firm specializing in evaluating externalities at the micro an macro levels, and a Visiting Fellow at Yale University, where he was awarded their 2011 McCluskey Fellowship and wrote his book “Corporation 2020”. The book and associated campaign “Corporation 2020” envisions the corporation of the future – one with positive rather than negative externalities, and presents action plans for rapid reforms in performance reporting, advertising rules, leverage controls and resource taxation to transform business for tomorrow’s world. Earlier, Pavan was Study Leader for the G8+5 commissioned project “TEEB” (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), a global study of the economic benefits of ecosystems and the social and economic implications of their loss and degradation. Pavan is a career banker, and delivered TEEB’s Interim Report in 2008 whilst still working full time as a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank, where his last assignment was to set up a leading front-office offshoring operation for their Global Markets division. He then joined UNEP to lead the writing of TEEB’s Final Report suite, and to head UNEP’s ‘Green Economy Initiative’. Pavan is now a Goodwill Ambassador to UNEP. “Environmental Finance” magazine selected Pavan as their “Personality of the Year” for 2010. The Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM), UK, awarded Pavan their 2011 Medal. Pavan recently won the 2013 “Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development” for his work on bringing policy recognition for valuing nature’s services.
About the Moderator – Brad Gentry, Professor in Practice, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Faculty Director, Yale Center for Business and the Environment