CSR and Young Global Leaders

February 10, 2010

Yesterday was the first day of the OneYoungWorld Leadership Summit in London.  I’m here under sponsorship of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and BCLC as one of the 1,000 delegates at this first-ever conference.

The purpose of the summit is to galvanize the world’s young leaders around issues that are going to affect us and generations to come. Represented here are young professionals and students in global development from over 100 countries!

The delegates come from companies, universities, and NGOs from all over the world — and many companies like American Express, Abbott, HP, Astra Zenica and PepsiCo have sent employees to represent them here in London.

Yesterday we heard from global leaders such as  Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof and Professor Nick Haysom, just to name a few.

I have to say, the highlight for me yesterday was hearing from Professor Mohummad Yunus.

Being one of the most inspiring and transformational development thinkers and implementers, his perspective on social business is truly revolutionary.  Professor Yunus spoke to the OneYoungWorld delegates about social business models and how business strategies can be used to dramatically change people’s lives.

As we moved through the day’s plenary sessions, the afternoon included a session on global business and CSR.  To be honest, many of the delegates (who range in age from 18- 30) were largely unaware of how the business community contributes  to global development.

I was extremely surprised of how many  delegates had negative perceptions of the business community as a whole. While I was little discouraged by the tone of the global business session, the enthusiasm and excitement of all of the delegates is absolutely incredible.

As we ended our sessions on day one, it was clear to me that many young people are unaware of the investments, philanthropy and partnerships corporations currently engage in within local communities all over the world. At BCLC we have made efforts to educate local government officials, federal representatives and stakeholders worldwide about the work companies are doing inside global CSR.

However, we need to take this message to the people who will be our leaders of tomorrow — because to be frank they don’t know about the good work that many companies do.

You can follow this conference online, and I will also provide regular reporting as the week goes on.