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Business Students Help Global Compact Garner Support

2004-02-15 

MBA students representing New York University’s Stern Business School and the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University presented recommendations to the Global Compact Office at a meeting in New York on 6 February 2004.  The students had been asked to participate in the Net Impact Pilot Project in order to pressure-test the effectiveness and impact of the UNGC’s Learning Forum website. Marriott and Stern MBAs partnered with the Global Compact to engage in dialogue with leading corporations on key global business issues by submitting questions to and receiving responses from company officers concerning their companies’ corporate citizenship practices.
This idea of a “social vetting” mechanism was a central element of dialogue between companies and other society stakeholders when the GC website was first launched in 2000.

Two groups of about 10 MBA students from Net Impact chapters of NYU’s Stern Business School and BYU submitted more than 150 comments and questions on companies’ Global Compact examples, projects, and case studies. The comments were then facilitated by the Global Compact Office, which forwarded them to the respective companies together with a request for response within 14 days. Comments and responses were then published on the Global Compact website (http://www.unglobalcompact.org).

Both the BYU and NYU teams presented valuable feedback concerning the Learning Forum. Their input included leveraging the UNGC’s project with the network and resources that already exist within the larger Net Impact organization. The students also discussed strategies for an eventual global roll-out of the Learning Forum website. Finally, the students engaged in a broad-ranging discussion with Georg Kell, Executive Head of the Global Compact, formulating more ideas for leveraging the UNGC with stakeholders outside the MBA community, such as socially responsible investors, as well as heads of financial and educational institutions.

“The quality of the comments from both NYU and BYU MBA students demonstrated their enthusiasm and understanding of the value of corporate citizenship,” said Kell.  “Moreover, the feedback from the more than 50 companies in response to the students’ comments was very encouraging in helping to bring to life a real dialogue between the private sector and other relevant stakeholders.”

“The U.N. Global Compact pilot project was a rewarding effort in which we applied what we’ve been learning in the classroom about corporate social responsibility to real-world situations,” said Scott Porter, BYU team member.

“My MBA courses gave me an understanding of the business context surrounding corporate social responsibility decisions that made it possible to recognize the challenges companies face and to provide substantive feedback,” said Dahna Goldstein, NYU Stern 2004 MBA candidate and Net Impact club coordinator.