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What do Walmart, Airbnb, and Comcast all have in common? A Dispatch from the Annual Concordia Summit

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Concordia Summit

 

By Kelsey Weber (MA' 18 - Global Human Development)

 

What do Walmart, Airbnb, and Comcast all have in common?

They all believe that the corporate sector can take the lead in addressing the most pressing issues in our world today. Last month, I had the opportunity as a GSEI Student leader to attend Concordia’s Annual Summit a 2-day conference. Concordia is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization whose mission is to “actively foster cross sector collaboration to create a more prosperous and sustainable future.” The meeting, convened in New York City to coincide with the UN General Assembly, brought together heads of state, US administration officials, Fortune 500 CEOs and non-profit leaders to discuss how to build effective partnerships for social impact.

Partnerships such Open Homes, a collaboration between Airbnb and the International Rescue Committee which connects hosts and resettlement agencies to provide free housing to refugees and evacuees of national disasters.  This idea grew out of a request by Airbnb community after Superstorm Sandy and inspired Airbnb's disaster and refugee relief program.  The theme of companies listening to their customers and communities ran through-out the conference.  Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms, spoke to how engaging with their critics and valuing their feedback has led them to become one of the largest organic chicken producers in the US. He also noted that “trust and transparency are critical to millennial consumers.”  

One particularly striking panel was called C-Suite Rises to the Challenge, which brought executives from Walmart, HP Inc., and Fortescue Metals Group to discuss how their companies have committed to clean supply chains and rooting out modern day slavery.  They showcased best practices and ways to collaborate across sectors to promote industry-wide action. Scott Price, Executive President of Global Leverage for Walmart, also made the business case that investigating the value chain while not a simple process, ultimately leads to the elimination of hidden costs.

The Concordia Annual Summit and its speakers are an example of how the corporate sector sees business and social value in addressing today's problems as an integral part of its business strategy.  Combating the issues that matter to their consumers and the communities where they work in is not only a moral obligation, but essential to ensure the sustainably of their businesses.

GSEI Student Leader Kelsey Webser (2nd from Right) attends Concordia

with GSEI staff and other GU Students.