It is often corporate social responsibility failings, rather than successes, which get the most publicity. However, occasionally successful entrepreneurs, such as Catherine B. Reynolds, break through the cloud of negative media and show that inspiring social and environmentally responsible thinking among our youth is a battle worth fighting and winning.
This goes beyond universities requiring business majors to take courses on business ethics and corporate social responsibility. The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation has begun to reward students for their research and work in the field of corporate social responsibility in two ways: 1) through invitations to her Academy of Achievement Summit; and 2) by providing scholarships through the Catherine B Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship.
The annual Academy of Achievement Summit, which is the intellectual equivalent of the Oscars, helps promote a variety of sustainable practices comprising corporate social responsibility standards. The organization (Academy of Achievement) invites a few dozen of the most notable names in politics, art, and business. Former attendees include Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Steven Spielberg, and CEOs of various companies. The best part: the summit holds events and discussions, in which some of the most renowned business leaders and politicians mingle and discuss issues with hand picked student attendees and young professionals.
These 70 students, usually from various backgrounds and countries, have been leaders in their respective fields, and they are nominated by the administration of their respective universities They are interested in leading initiatives in various fields, and they get to discuss their ideas about environmentalism, business ethics, and politics with some of the most successful leaders in their field.
The Catherine Reynolds Foundation also offers scholarship for NYU graduate and undergraduate students pursuing studies in social entrepreneurship. In addition to providing scholarships, the foundation also allows students to participate in a variety of panels dealing with corporate social responsibility. Towards the end of the program, the students are able to compete in a social venture competition, where the program provides winners with capital for their business idea.
This foundation, and Catherine B. Reynolds in particular, should be emulated by other wealthy individuals wanting to increase social entrepreneurship and corporate responsibility among young professionals. Indeed a similar inspiring initiative already exists: eBay founder Jeff Skoll’s Centre Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, along with his World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Through leadership initiatives like these, we can make CSR the norm, instilled from a young age. If we succeed, we are less likely to see deviations from responsible, accountable practices.
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