News at Smith

Corporate Champions: Introducing the Coalition for Better Business

Oct 18, 2018
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


Coalition for Better Business

Undergraduate student Natalie DiFelice, class of 2020, writes about the Corporate Champions event, which kicked off the first full school year of programming for the new Coalition for Better Business, hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation on Thursday, September 18, 2018, at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Last month, the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC) introduced the founding partners of the Coalition for Better Business — a new Smith School of Business industry partner model focused on bringing to life CSVC’s five Principles for Better Business. Coalition members took part in a facilitated discussion and Q&A on the topic of "Leading Change in a Corporate Ecosystem,"with Melanie Condon, MBA ’17, of Unilever, Sarah Mihalecz of Tata Sons Limited and Jeff Senne of PwC offering an inside look at how these champions of change lead the way in their respective organizations.

After a warm welcome from Victor Mullins, associate dean of undergraduate programs at the Smith School, and an introduction from John Chickering, MBA ’85, the executive advisor for the center, Kim Glinka, CSVC's director, took the floor to moderate the conversation, exploring topics that included: corporate structure, embedding sustainability and social value within, translating statements of purpose into action, and gaining public trust.

For Tata, Mihalecz says, the challenge and opportunity lies in getting each of Tata’s 100 independently operating companies to align around its mission to “to improve the quality of life, in the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on trust.” With such a wide scope, crossing multiple industries, each company ultimately must take on that mission in an individualized, market-targeted way.

PwC's Senne shared that the professional services firm has found success by expanding its approach to corporate responsibility to be more closely aligned with business strategy. Responsible business leadership is PwC’s commitment to invest its skills and resources to help address the growing inequality and rapid technological change. For example, PwC’s people are working to close the opportunity gap through Access Your PotentialTM, its $320 million commitment to teaching underserved students the technology and money skills they need to maximize their potential. To reach even deeper into underlying causes and drive direct action, PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan is a leader and founding signatory of CEO Action for Diversity & InclusionTM, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

Unilever, a company that touches 2.5 billion people every day through its many product lines, takes a fully embedded approach to sustainability and social responsibility. The Unilever sustainable living plan includes a commitment to cutting its environmental impact in half, moving toward zero waste in landfills, promoting women’s empowerment and utilizing research and development to incorporate recycled materials into each of their products. Condon pointed out that full transparency is key to gaining that trust, but only to the extent that it provides credible information without flaunting every sustainable attribute or social value effort, which can be interpreted negatively by consumers.

Although each company executes their commitment to social value in distinct ways, each coalition member could agree on the importance of embedding and aligning social value objectives within structure and culture, the significance of having internal employee motivators, as well accepting without demonizing the non-believers and those reluctant to change.

The Center for Social Value Creation would like to thank Tata, PwC and Unilever for their partnership with and continued support of the Coalition for Better Business!

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.