Against the backdrop of economic turmoil and a historic U.S. presidential election, business leaders from around the world shared their sentiments about the future of corporate responsibility during the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Conference last week in New York.
Photo credit: www.bsr.org
A third of attendees, representing corporations, NGOs, government and academia, took part in the BSR/Cone Corporate Responsibility in a New World Survey , which revealed that despite tough times and the possibility of declining budgets, these corporate responsibility leaders share a surprising optimism:
- Seventy-seven percent remain optimistic that global business will embrace responsible business practices as part of their core strategies and operations in the next five years.
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) believe there will be increasing demands on business to solve social problems, but more than half of these respondents expect business will meet these demands.
- Nearly nine out of 10 believe President-elect Obama will have a positive impact on advancing the corporate responsibility agenda around the world.
The continued drive toward responsibility, despite the declining economy, is rooted in these business leaders’ belief that corporate responsibility is core to sustainable economic growth worldwide. In fact, more than two-thirds of respondents said that more responsible business practices could have lessened, or even prevented, the current economic downturn.
As Jeff Immelt, GE CEO and keynote speaker, explained during the conference, his beliefs on the role of business addressing climate change and selling products that help solve environmental problems are not just feel-good; it’s ultimately about the bottom-line. GE’s suite of ecomagination products is evidence- it’s grown from $5 billion since its inception to about $17 billion today.
Click here for additional findings from the BSR/Cone 2008 Corporate Responsibility in a New World Survey. And, for information from the BSR conference, including session summaries and video highlights, click here.