Experts consider social, environmental impact of business in the next decade

Author: Carol Elliott

Ten Years Hence

In the last decade, globalization has made business more powerful than ever, with the combined economic impact of the top corporations outstripping many nation-states.

In the coming decade, how will this power impact poverty, education, energy, sustainability and other societal issues in the global community?

That question is the central focus of the 2011 Ten Years Hence Speaker Series sponsored by the Mendoza College of Business at the University of the Notre Dame. The theme for this year’s series is “Business for the Common Good,” and will feature seven lectures from scholars, executives from top companies and other experts involved in social responsibility and sustainability efforts.

The lectures, held on select Fridays from 10:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. in the Jordan Auditorium at the Mendoza College, are free and open to the public.

Noted speakers include Peter Senge from MIT, a “management guru” who wrote the best seller “The Fifth Discipline” and “The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World.”

In addition to considering the larger theme of business’ impact on the common good, the 2011 Ten Years Hence series also includes a deeper looking to “B-Corporations,” which are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental issues. Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, the nonprofit that conducts the certification of companies, will lead off the series on Jan. 21.

To be certified as a B-corporation, the company must meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards, as well as higher legal accountability standards. B-corporations also must show that they are creating greater economic opportunity, strengthening local communities and preserving the environment. Some examples include Method, Seventh Generation, Better World Books and Numi Organic Tea.

The complete 2011 Ten Years Hence Speaker Series schedule is:

  • Jan. 21: Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems
  • Jan. 28: Barbara J. Krumsiek, chair, CEO and president of Calvert Group, a leading investment management firm headquartered in Bethesda, Md.
  • Feb. 4: Peter M. Senge, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a global community of corporations, researchers and consultants dedicated to the interdependent development of people and their institutions
  • Feb. 18: Jeffrey Hollender, the co-founder and former president and CEO of Seventh Generation, the leading brand of natural household products in the United States
  • March 4: Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of The Monsanto Company’s Sustainability and Corporate Affairs
  • April 1: Dave Stangis, vice president of CSR and Sustainability for the Campbell Soup Company
  • April 8: Marc Gunther, blogger, contributing editor at Fortune magazine and senior writer at, writes and speaks about business and sustainability

Ten Years Hence, a signature event of the Mendoza College of Business, explores issues, ideas and trends likely to affect business and society during the next decade. The annual series is sponsored by the O’Brien-Smith Leadership Program made possible by an endowment from 1940 Notre Dame graduate William H. O’Brien and his wife, Dee. The program is named after their respective parents. The O’Brien-Smith Program endowment provides an opportunity for students and faculty to interact with distinguished leaders from business, government and nonprofit sectors.

Contact: Jean Meade, project administrator, 574-631-3277,