UN Global Goals: A "Good Business Friday" At Babson

 

On Friday, November 30th, I attended my first “Good Business Friday” conversation held in Reynold’s Global Lounge. For those who aren’t as up-to-date on the United Nations Global Goals, these are a set of 17 sustainable development initiatives that have been set by the UN for companies to work toward achieving. You may have heard about them in your FME class! One important takeaway from the conversation was that, “just because the SDGs are ranked in numerical order, does not mean that they don’t play off of one another; to address quality education, you need to address gender equality, etc.” All of these global goals coincide with one another, and are becoming increasingly important as more international companies with well-known reputations seek to decrease their environmental footprint and increase their connections to sustainable, socially responsible business plans.

An institution such as Babson that is focused on simultaneously creating economic and social value certainly has a role to play in educating future business leaders that will help global companies achieve these global goals. The significance of the SDGs in our society’s current business arena was underscored by Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, who wrote a letter to all of the companies that Blackrock invests in instructing them to “contribute to society or risk losing out support.” Every social dilemma is a market opportunity, and Fink feels that the $1.7 trillion worth of funds managed by his company need to count; therefore, the companies that can step up to the plate and positively contribute to society and give back to the environment are the ones most deserving of his company’s wealth management expertise.

Currently, CEO’s are primarily concerned with and energized by profitable growth, innovation, engaged employees, and finally, a connection to society. As can be found in Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs:,

“Companies have been too focused on quarterly results; similarly, shareholder engagement has been too focused on annual meetings and proxy votes. If engagement is to be meaningful and productive – if we collectively are going to focus on benefiting shareholders instead of wasting time and money in proxy fights – then engagement needs to be a year-round conversation about improving long-term value.”

Fink’s letter attempts to push companies to look beyond the tangible value of financial profit and company recognition, which in turn results in a larger focus on improving the social and economic standing of people with and without purchasing power, as well as the environment as a whole.

Seeing as Babson stands as the preeminent global leader in preparing “Entrepreneurs of All Kinds,” it is fitting that we, as students, consider the impact our current business goals or ventures have on the triple bottom line associated with every company: the social, environmental, and financial outcomes of a business plan.

*Good Business Fridays is an Uncommon Table designed for our entire community: undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff, and social innovators. Every Friday between 12:30–1:30pm in the Reynolds Global Lounge