University of California - Campanile
University of California Berkeley – Campanile

Dear Friends of the Center for Responsible Business:

As we conclude the 2015-16 academic year, I would like to offer some reflections.

2015-16 was a very busy year with a lot of firsts. This included launching the Patagonia Eco-Innovation Case Competition and the Berkeley Sustainable Investing & Finance Forum. These events exemplify three themes that drive our activities and strategy of the CRB: 1)student-centered, 2) focus areas and 3) build on the strengths of UC-Berkeley.

Our mission at the CRB is to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future. This year we committed ourselves to assertively put students – our future leaders — at the center of everything we do. This included a heightened role for our CRB Student Advisory Board to directly inform the content we offer, the events we facilitate, and desired companies for engagement.  Our student-centered approach helped lead to a highlight for the CRB: all of our Peterson Speaker Series events “sold out”, featuring speakers such as Alice Waters and the student-recommended companies including Airbnb, Lyft, and Microsoft.

In an effort to drive deep impact we developed and launched the concept of focus areas that make strategic sense for Berkeley-Haas and align with our students interests. The four current CRB focus areas are: 1) Sustainable Investing & Finance; 2) Human Rights & Business; 3) Sustainable Food; and 4) Sustainable Supply Chains. As example, the Sustainable Investing & Finance focus area represents an area of longstanding tradition at Berkeley-Haas with activities including the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund (HSRIF), our Socially Responsible Investing course, and Moskowitz SRI Research Prize.  By assembling these activities within focus areas, we are able to tackle current sustainability challenges and attract industry partners.

The CRB is increasingly building on the strengths UC-Berkeley. The Human Rights and Business focus area serves as example. UC-Berkeley has such incredible legacies in the promotion of human rights and social justice. With this focus area, we connect these resources to Berkeley-Haas by drawing upon centers and programs across the university. Additionally, the CRB developed a partnership with the Berkeley-Haas Case Series through which we seed sustainability-minded cases with our closest CRB corporate partners including Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, and Kimberly-Clark.

Looking ahead to 2016-17, we will further operationalize the efforts to put students at the center of everything we do, drive deep impact through our focus areas, and build upon the incredible resources of UC-Berkeley and Berkeley-Haas. We plan to extend the depth and reach of our company engagement, investigating and resolving real-time sustainability challenges within global companies

We look forward to engaging with you in the year ahead and are excited to invite you to the high-profile Best for the World Gathering to kick off the school year. We are also delighted to welcome Professor Robert Eccles (Harvard University, Arabesque Partners) and Susanne Stormer (VP Corporate Sustainability, Novo Nordisk) as our CRB nominated Berkeley Social Impact Fellows coordinated through our affiliation with the Institute for Business & Social Impact (IBSI). And of course, we have a lot more in store so please keep an eye on our events calendar.

Do you have any questions or suggestions for me? Please come see me for an upcoming “Coffee with the CRB.” The coffee is on me!

Onward!!!

Robert Strand, PhD