Business as a World Healer: Bentley University Leadership Forum

Update – Sept. 14, 2014: I recently revisited this article, among the first I wrote for this blog back in early 2009. America and the world was still reeling from an unconscionably cratered economy; and yet, there was substantial optimism that the global economy – as well as global society and well-being at large – would recover and become stronger. That optimism has since been proven to have been on the mark.

Now more than ever, the advancement of global business and global civilization are increasingly viewed as intertwined and no longer commonly regarded as being mutually exclusive. With all that in mind, it is even more gratifying to look back and read this write-up of Bentley University’s 2009 Leadership Forum: The Business of Healing Our World.

Bentley University 2009 Leadership Forum.

As a Bentley University MBA alum, I am proud that Bentley fully understands and deeply values the importance of business leadership firmly grounded in ethics and social responsibility. It is this variety of true leadership, critical to cultivating the innovations key to solving global challenges, that Bentley advocates for – most recently with its outstanding 5th Annual Leadership Forum (2009), co-produced once again with TIME magazine.

The Bentley Annual Leadership Forum brings together innovative business professionals, NGO executives, thought leaders and more to discuss and share successes on the positive impact enlightened business can have and is having on our society, our environment, our global quality of life. The Forum is capped off by a luncheon honoring student winners of the Tomorrow 25, an international competition honoring 25 outstanding high school juniors with a series of special events on the Bentley campus.

One of the best examples of business for social good profiled at the Leadership Forum was World of Good, presented by founder and CEO Priya Haji (photo).

Priya Haji established a new global distribution system for ethically developed products by over 150 artisan cooperatives in 34 countries around the world. These products are already sold through retail partners like Whole Foods Market, with new partnerships with Hallmark and Disney in progress, as well as online via World of Good on EBay.

The Bentley brand, consisting of its longtime business pragmatism melded with a very strong sense of business ethics, integrity and responsibility is one I am pleased to claim as part of my personal brand. And I am hardly the only Bentley alum who feels that way: Fellow Bentley alum and social entrepreneur Nancy Gallant wrote a fine post in praise of the Leadership Forum on the Bentley University Alumni LinkedIn Group which she has allowed me to share here:

As a social entrepreneur, I found the speakers, their stories and their message inspiring and empowering. And, the Tomorrow 25 “kids” that were introduced, don’t even get me started!

The Leadership Summit is the perfect illustration of Bentley’s dedication to “doing well by doing good.” Given the recent (and, I believe, inevitable) upheaval in the economy, I am hopeful that, in addition to Bentley’s current student population, Bentley alums will help lead the way toward conscious capitalism, a concept with considerable merit and in need of passionate support. Given their leadership role in business ethics, among other things, it only makes sense that Bentley would be a major part of the conversation to promote positive change, socially and environmentally, while embracing and espousing the benefits of a capitalistic economy in which ethics, morality, transparency and stewardship to our future generations, those less fortunate, and our environment are all part of the equation…

I could go on (and on). If you are interested in digging deeper, your time would be well spent checking out a couple of related links:

Whole Foods President John Mackey’s commencement speech 2008 at Bentley

For those who may have missed it, Bentley has a partnership program in support of City Year that should serve as a model to all institutions of higher learning.

Bentley grad Joe Marchese, the speaker at the Tomorrow 25 Luncheon, is walking the walk of conscious capitalism through the creation of his SocialVibe website that harnesses the potential for social media to serve as a positive changemaker, simply by helping organizations drive profits by promoting their socially responsible initiatives.

It’s with pride that I watch Bentley continue to raise the bar and lead the way in ethically-based, cutting-edge business standards that promote and encourage business initiatives and innovation that, in President Gloria Larson’s words, “are both good for business and the broader social good.”

If I sound gushy about Bentley, that’s how I truly feel. Being my authentic self is a great part of values-driven business – working each day in service to a mission that is in synch with my own values and aspirations to be a part of the positive change that is upon us. Not bad work if you can find it or create it!

I couldn’t agree more, and of course, I share Nancy’s “gushy” feelings (aka pride!) in Bentley University.

Meanwhile, Bentley University’s 5th Annual Global Business Ethics Symposium is set for Monday, May 18, 2009!




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