Can businesses change the world for the better, improve the environment, reduce poverty or improve K-12 education? Discovering the answers to those questions is part of the mission of the new Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business (ECRB) at Saint Mary's College of California.
The goals of the new center, formerly known as the Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism, include research to address sustainability challenges, which includes figuring out how to produce goods and services that won’t endanger future generations and the environment. The ECRB will promote best practices in corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, continue focus on fiduciary capitalism and responsible investments, provide students opportunities to work with companies with responsible business practices and foster business education models to promote real and positive sustainable change in the world today.
"This new center for responsible business expands on our prior focus on fiduciary capitalism,” said Saint Mary's Provost Bethami Dobkin. "The research and educational programs of the ECRB will reflect the mission of the College by encouraging businesses, through the scholarship of our faculty and engagement of our students, to develop innovative solutions to help solve social and environmental problems in their immediate communities and across the globe.”
To mark the launch of the Center, the ECRB will hold a panel discussion "Responsible Business: What It Is and Why It Matters," on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in the Soda Center of Saint Mary's College, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556.
The forum features leading executives from responsible businesses in the Bay Area, including Ken Munson, chief executive officer of Sunverge Energy and Augustine Gill, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities of the East Bay. The forum will be moderated by Professor Saroja Subrahmanyan, the executive director of the ECRB and will also feature ECRB Senior Fellow and Saint Mary’s Management Professor James Hawley..
“Responsible business must mean more than simply claiming to be responsible,” said Hawley. “What are emerging worldwide are standards for responsible business through the concepts of E-S-G, for environmental, social and governance standards.” The author of 35 articles on responsible investment, the international financial system and the ownership and governance of corporations, Hawley explained that the “E” and the “S” focus on the impact of products and services that a business provides and how they impact society and the environment, both positively and negatively, while “G” is about governance and focuses on how firms are owned and controlled.
“The panel reflects the planned business partnerships and public outreach the Center will have going forward,” said Subrahmanyan, whose academic research includes sustainable consumption and consumer behavior of economically disadvantaged people. “Our plans are for the Center to take a leadership role promoting and inspiring sustained research, advancing responsible business pedagogy and fostering ongoing partnerships among academics, students and businesses,” she added.
In addition to research and outreach, Zhan Li, SEBA’s dean said student engagement will be a key focus of the Center. “The ECRB will allow our students to partner with, invest in and advise various enterprises that meet the criteria for responsible businesses in the Bay Area and internationally," said Li. “These are important educational opportunities and they are an outgrowth of the ongoing focus on the global leadership and responsible business orientation in the School of Economic and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s.”
For more information about the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business, visit stmarys-ca.edu/responsiblebusi