Recap: Big Business, Bigger Impact: The Pursuit, Peril, and Power of Partnership
April 10, 2014 | 3482 views
Building off the advance series collection of articles written by delegates and speakers of this year's Skoll World Forum, this section will feature live blogs and pieces from the event in Oxford. We will be covering a wide variety of sessions, panels and discussions on-site. View the live-stream on the homepage, and watch here for real-time articles all week! -- Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information. Learn more about the 2014 Skoll World Forum, sign up to our newsletter to be notified of the live stream, view the 2014 delegate roster and discover what themes and ideas we'll be covering this year at the event. Also, read about the seven recipients of this year's Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
“Let us bring the invisible heart of markets to those the invisible hand of markets has left behind,” said Sir Ronald Cohen during the opening plenary on Wednesday night, stressing that business and social good go hand-in-hand.
Of particular interest to me within that paradigm was a session called “Big Business, Bigger Impact: The Pursuit, Peril, and Power of Partnership.” Participants tackled questions like, “How can entrepreneurs and businesses alleviate pressing social issues together?” and “How do you convince a multinational company to fund your social innovation?”
These and other questions were discussed on a panel featuring Robert Annibale (Citigroup), Mark Davis (The Body Shop), and Kavita Prakesh-Mani (Syngenta). Among the audience were representatives from Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Oxfam and more. In this room – full of suits – I was pleasantly surprised to hear panelists discuss the importance of integrating innovative and long-lasting solutions into every day work instead of sidelining social responsibility within Public Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility arms.
To me, this is indicative of a new discourse at the executive levels–ten years ago, this discussion was unheard of. In fact, several of the executives in the room had social programs in their portfolios but had deliberately chosen not to label them as such out of fear that shareholders would remove funding; or – as one of the panelist phrased it – would end up as a ‘ghettoized segment’ of companies that are doing good.
Advice for nonprofits
Below is a simplified summary of the tips that were shared during the panel.