With the US government pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and many nations closing their doors on immigrants, environmental and social challenges are rapidly turning into private sector risks and opportunities. Businesses are being called to take on the additional jobs of solving economic, social and environmental challenges—as well as prospering financially. A growing number of businesses now see that combating the world's challenges can be a driver for increased economic prosperity while also actively improving the environment and society: we call it flourishing enterprise.
This week from June 14-16, Cleveland will be the center of this powerful new model for doing business, as nearly 300 regional, national and international business visionaries gather at Case Western Reserve University's Fourth Global Forum. The university's Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit has invited executives, entrepreneurs, and business leaders to share their stories of how they have had positive impacts on the world even as they have improved their financial performance.
In Northeast Ohio alone, companies are implementing flourishing enterprise with impressive results. Two examples:
- Fairmount Santrol, a leading producer of industrial sand headquartered in Cleveland, designs its mining activities around plans for reclamation and works to protect land quality and biodiversity. Chuck Fowler, for whom the Fowler Center is named, is the retired President of Fairmount Santrol and past Chair of the Case Western Reserve University Board of Directors.
- GOJO, the Akron-based hygiene solutions company behind Purell hand sanitizer, has set a goal to bring well-being to 1 billion people each day by 2020.
The concept of flourishing enterprise is an evolution of the sustainability movement, which businesses embraced as a way to "do less harm." Cleveland is one of the global centers for this concept. Case Western Reserve University championed flourishing enterprise even as the concept evolved. The Fowler Center advances research and scholarship on how firms can contribute to society and the environment in ways that create even more value for shareholders.
During the Fourth Global Forum, 17 inaugural Flourish Prizes will be awarded for business innovation—one for each of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Flourish Prizes represent the best-of-the-best of 422 stories written by business students worldwide in 2016 as part of the Fowler Center’s AIM2Flourish.com initiative. AIM2Flourish is the world’s first higher-education curriculum to help professors teach their students about flourishing enterprise and the UN SDGs. Several Ohio universities offer the AIM2Flourish curriculum to their students, including the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, joining several hundred other business schools around the world.
Years from now, we hope to look back on this week in Cleveland and see the impact of businesses adopting flourishing enterprise around the world.
by Claire Sommer, AIM2Flourish Communications Director, Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit
For more information on the Fourth Global Forum, please visit the website, call (800) 958-4438, or email [email protected]. For information on AIM2Flourish or the Flourish Prizes, please contact Claire Sommmer at [email protected] or 917-834-0323.
Sustainable Cleveland works together with community leaders, organizations, businesses, and citizens to reshape Cleveland into a vibrant livable city with thriving businesses and a flourishing natural environment. Each month, Sustainable Cleveland features a guest blogger to highlight their efforts and success stories in turning Cleveland into a sustainable city, at home, at work, and in the community. Share your success stories here.