COBA, Business, & Sustainability
The world’s natural resources are being harvested and used up much faster than Earth’s natural processes can replace them. As societal and global leaders, American businesses can significantly shape the sustainable processes that are developed to secure a successful and comfortable future for all.
Business leaders around the world advocate for various practices that businesses and consumers can use to promote a more sustainable culture in professional and personal realms. Hear from some of these business leaders in the TED Talks linked below, and read about some College of Business Administration courses you can take to dive deeper into these topics.
Ashly Smith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, General Business and Finance
“The Case of Letting Business Solve Social Problems,” Michael Porter
Michael Porter, Harvard Business School strategy professor, points out that historically the cultural belief as been that for businesses to profit they must create a social problem, for example production can lead to pollution. However, Porter found through his research and professional work that “shared value”—or “addressing a social issue with a business model—can help businesses create social value and economic value simultaneously.
Learn more about the concepts Michael Porter introduces in classes like the following
“The Business Logic of Sustainability,” Ray Anderson
Ray Anderson, founder of industrial and private flooring companies Interface and Flor, shares the story of his companies’ progress toward their Mission Zero goal, being a zero impact, zero footprint company. He describes how the drive toward sustainability sparked innovation within his companies, helped them minimize resources use and save money, and ultimately gain market share.
Learn more about the concepts Ray Anderson introduces in classes like the following
“The Business Benefits of Doing Good,” Wendy Woods
Wendy Woods, Senior Partner and Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group, argues for the business benefits of “doing good” in her January 2018 TED Talk. Woods argues, “if we're going to make lasting and significant progress in the big challenges in our world, we need business, both the companies and the investors, to drive the solutions.” She draws on examples from Mars (the company), oil and gas companies, retail banks, biopharmaceutical companies, and more to show how businesses working toward Total Societal Impact (TSI) create both total shareholder returns and improve sustainability solutions to solve pressing problems “both profitably and generously.”
Learn more about the concepts Wendy Woods introduces in classes the like the following
“How to Make a Profit while Making a Difference,” Audrey Choi
Audrey Choi, sustainable investment expert, advocates for investing in companies that champion social values and sustainability. Choi describes how consumers opt for sustainable products and to do businesses that they perceive to be engaged in sustainable processes. Moreover, she draws on the profitability of Burt’s Bees, Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever, and Clorox stocks—as well as research from Harvard Business School and Oxford—to show the value of investing in companies that engage in sustainable processes.
Learn more about the concepts Audrey Choi introduces in classes the like the following
“The Investment Logic for Sustainability,” Chris McKnett
Chris McKnett, VP of ESG Investing at State Street Global Advisors, argues that the power to influence sustainable practices in society is in the hands of large institutional investment managers, like those who manage pension funds, foundations, and endowments. McKnett shows the positive results of making investment decisions while considering environment, social, and governance (ESG) in addition to traditional performance metrics.
Learn more about the concepts Chris McKnett introduces in classes like the following