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Harnessing the private sector for social good, alongside UNGA

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September 25, 2019

By Paul Todd, CEO at GLG

Photo: (L-R) IBM’s Guillermo Miranda, EY’s Kate Barton, me, FT’s Gillian Tett, and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Tony Milikin

The U.N. General Assembly is back in session this week in New York for its big annual gathering. And while global leaders meet to discuss urgent issues facing the planet, many from outside government are seizing the chance to talk about how they can contribute to the greater good.

Monday morning, I joined business leaders here in Manhattan for a conversation about how the private sector can and must play a greater role in driving social impact. We discussed the recent statement by the Business Roundtable on the purpose of the corporation – how it’s got to be more than just creating value for shareholders. A few decades ago, that was the prevailing view. Now we’re getting back to that vision of corporate social responsibility, and it’s good for everyone.

This is nearly mainstream. We’re not there yet – it’ll take time for companies to really build social impact into their work so that it goes beyond slogans or PR. But more businesses are on their way toward it becoming second nature. It’s thrilling – in my opinion, one of the most exciting things happening in business today. The UN and other global organizations with convening power should look to harness the private sector’s unique capabilities – our nimbleness, innovation, ability to scale, and financial resources – in their quest to build a healthier, more secure and more equal world.

It was a good and important discussion with fellow panelists Kate Barton from EY, Tony Milikin from Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Guillermo Miranda from IBM. Thanks also to Gillian Tett, chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large, US of the Financial Times, for moderating.

Photo: (L-R) GLG Social Impact Director Jen Field and GLG Social Impact Fellow Minhaj Chowdhury