Students at the Schulich School of Business at York University last month again reminded us why their school was ranked 3rd Globally for CSR Education by the Aspen’s Institute’s ‘Beyond Grey Pinstripes‘ list. Their Corporate Social Responsibility Society (CSRS), a chapter of Net Impact, once again hosted their annual CORE Conference which both educated the student body about CSR and provided them with the necessary skills to implement CSR in the business environment.
The Society’s Marketing Director, Luvleen Malhans, has written an exclusive piece about the conference for EvolvingChoice :
In its fifth year running, the 2009 CORE Conference has grown to be one of the largest undergraduate CSR conferences hosted in Canada. Hosted by the Corporate Social Responsibility Society (CSRS) at the Schulich School of Business at York University (Toronto), this conference brought forward-thinking students together with top business leaders, exposing them to the perspectives and practices of CSR in the business community. Delegates had the opportunity to meet with representatives from companies and organizations that are actively involved with CSR such as Loblaw, TELUS, Suncor, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, TD Financial Group, Corporate Knights, Canada Helps.org to name just a few.
This year’s conference theme was “Changing the Present, Sustaining the Future.” Examining the evolution of CSR in the corporate environment, the conference encompassed a theme based on the “Past, Present, and Future of CSR.” The conference also aimed to reflect on the growth in CSR and proactive CSR initiatives implemented over the years, while also assessing the current issues and goals faced by leading Canadian companies today.
The key highlight of the annual CORE Conference is its Case Competition. This year’s title sponsor Loblaw Companies, a prominent Canadian retailer, provided the focus for a CSR Case related to many of the issues it faces. Five undergraduate finalist teams competed fiercely by presenting their findings and recommendations in front of Loblaw judges and all delegates. One issue of great emphasis was Loblaw’s local food sourcing initiatives. Currently 25% of Loblaw’s produce is considered ‘local.’ However questions over total greenhouse gas emissions in local production and inability to grow certain produce locally were issues that teams showed creativity and thought in. But in the end, almost all teams showed a preference to growing Loblaw’s local food sourcing yet with unique methods and examined various business alternatives.
New to this year was the Ernst & Young Video Competition. This competition served as a creative platform for undergraduate students to submit a video outlining what CSR means to them. With workshops held by TD Financial Group and Coca-Cola Bottling Company, students had the ability to learn in an interactive setting the CSR initiatives, achievements and goals such companies engage in. Coca-Cola Bottling Company used this opportunity to outline its first ever Canadian CSR Report. The process in creating the report and communicating with Coca-Cola’s stakeholders was discussed along with future goals and development that the company is working towards.
Moreover, the conference had various distinguished keynote speakers that discussed crucial issues that many companies and organizations face, along with the key aspects of working in the CSR field. Speakers such as Professor Andrew Crane used humourous yet insightful comments such as how as investors we actually would have been better off just buying beer for a year than investing in today’s market place as your return on recycling the beer bottles would have been greater when compared to certain suffering stocks. Delegates also had the opportunity to hear from CSR author and expert, Dr. Bob Willard. With 34 years of experience, Bob provided an insightful look into how to overcome many of the obstacles in implementing CSR in corporations. With useful tips in conveying CSR terminology and discussing the motivators for sustainability his presentation provided a different perspective on quantifying and communicating the business case for sustainability.
The 2009 CORE Conference was a valuable event in educating and promoting CSR amongst future business leaders along with highlighting some of the trends within CSR in Canada. With case competitions, keynote speakers, various workshops, and plenty of opportunities to network, the CORE Conference provided a mutually beneficial and educational event for all its delegates.
Luvleen Malhans is the Director of Marketing for the Corporate Social Responsibility Society (CSRS) at the Schulich School of Business. CSRS is an undergraduate student run organization with the aim at educating and promoting CSR amongst the students and the business environment.
Luvleen is a fourth year BBA student at Schulich-York University in Toronto with specializations in Marketing and Strategic Management. Luvleen also attended an international exchange program at Singapore Management University in 2008.