BSR Conference – Redefining Business Leadership
Last week I attended a fascinating corporate responsibility conference that took place in the United States. The field of Corporate Responsibility refers to how a business relates to their employees, community, environment and consumers. While it is at an advanced development phase in Israel, in many western countries it is already a deeply-rooted discipline, which many companies incorporate into their work plans.
One of the major U.S.-based organizations that advocate such practices is BSR (Business for Social Responsibility).This is a fellowship organization whose membership is made up of hundreds of the largest U.S. companies that are listed in the Fortune 500.
BSR is a global network of organizations and companies of all sizes that have undertaken to advocate corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
This organization provides its member organizations and companies with comprehensive consulting on CR-related issues such as environmental strategy, dialogue with stakeholders, responsible management of the supply chain, community involvement and more. It also assists with entrepreneurship and collaborations in a wide range of social and environmental issues.
BSR holds an annual international conference which is known to be one of the world’s most important CR events. It brings together a variety of professionals from different fields and all to one location. These professionals consist of business leaders, CR Managers, provocative scholars as well as exciting workshop moderators who help the conference participants understand how to promote and implement the CR policy of their respective organizations.
This year’s conference was entitled “Redefining Leadership” and aimed to highlight the changed role of leaders in our era.
This is the age of global social-economic protests, of mass crowds of demonstrators demanding social justice, of politicians forced to resig their positions by the power of the masses. Such an era presents business leaders with great responsibility and a complex role of setting large goals, listening to diverse voices, investing in system-based solutions, steering innovative business models and developing products and partnerships with which they can navigate toward a future where every organization will place CR at the core of its activity.
BSR delivered its promise to create a unique learning experience by providing diverse workshops thanks to the seven keynote speakers in the plenary session. The seven keynote speakers consisted of four men and three women that included Nobel Prize laureate Al Gore, Brian Dunn, CEO of global Best Buy, Carlos Brito, CEO of InBev and our very own Ofra Strauss, Chairperson of Strauss Group, who spoke on the second day of the conference.
The speakers examined the changes that are required in business leadership. They pointed at the link between business leadership and social responsibility and elaborated on business creativity in an age of a global economy where business leaders are becoming an inseparable part of the responsibility for the success and wellbeing of our world’s population.
In her speech, entitled “Business Ethics”, Ofra Strauss discussed international changes such as the economic crisis, social-economic protests around the world and consumers’ lost of trust in the business companies. She also reviewed the changing business world – the need to rebuild consumers’ trust, to present a new type of leadership and the role of Strauss in such an era. Finally, she discussed the new dimensions of leadership: the perception of business fairness, the relationships fostered between business companies and their stakeholders, the fact that companies are required to act above and beyond the mere provisions of the law and the need to assume nothing short of 360˚ responsibility and commitment.
Ofra Strauss emphasized the fact that we live in an age of attentiveness. We must constantly be attentive and listen to consumers, customers, suppliers, employees and competitors. This is the only way to truly understand the needs and desires of the diverse stakeholders in every business. This is the only way to truly understand how a company should plan its activities and improve its course.