Corporate Leaders Discuss Social Role
6 March 2002 at 12:03 pm
The recent World Economic Forum staged in New York last month was not just a debate on globalisation…but a chance for corporate leaders to make a stand on their social role.
During a plenary session corporate leaders including the CEOs of a number of the world’s most famous corporations agreed that corporate leaders have an obligation as global citizens to play a larger role on the world stage.
However such leaders needed to understand that this role requires them to perform a difficult and sometimes thankless balancing act.
The discussion included contributions from Bills Gates, the Chairman of the Microsoft Corporation, World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, the Chairman of the Toshiba Corporation, Taizo Nishimuro and the Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch USA, David Komansky.
After the debate the meeting produced a CEO-led statement called “Global Corporate Citizenship: The Leadership Challenge for CEOs and Boards.
Thirty-six Chief Executive Officers from a variety of sectors have currently signed the document.
The joint statement by the task force of World Economic Forum CEOs recommends a framework for action that chief executives, chairmen, board directors and executive management teams can use to develop a strategy for managing their company’s impact on society and its relationships with stakeholders.
P.B. Watts, the Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, in the United Kingdom told one session that corporate citizenship is not a luxury, especially in these difficult times.
He said it’s a sensible part of good business.
Richard Parsons, Chief Executive Officer Designate, of AOL Time Warner, USA said that increasingly, the corporate sector is where decisions about how people lead their lives are going to be made.
He added that corporate leaders have to think beyond making profits to how they affect society but that corporate social responsibilities do not override a corporation’s fundamental obligation to make a reasonable return for investors.
The World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is an independent organisation that describes itself as being committed to improving the state of the world.
Funded by the contributions of 1,000 of the world’s foremost corporations, the Forum acts in the spirit of entrepreneurship in the global public interest to further economic growth and social progress.
The WEF says it serves its members and society by creating partnerships between and among business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society to define, discuss and advance key issues on the global agenda.
Incorporated in 1971 as a foundation, the World Economic Forum is a Not for Profit, and is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. In 1995 the Forum was awarded NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Pro Bono Australia has down loaded the 16-page CEO joint statement as a pdf file. If you would like an electronic copy send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.