Dear Friends of the Center for Responsible Business:
The 2017-18 academic year is off and running. The campus is abuzz with students and the first year MBAs have been pounding down the CRB doors and filling our “Coffee with the CRB” chats to capacity. As we have now entered the new academic year, I would like to offer some reflections on the past year and aspirations for the year ahead.
These are serious times for which the CRB has serious concerns. We feel our work is more important now than ever and we are proud to have stood with many of our partner companies who have taken a progressive stand in the name of social and environmental justice. During the 2016-17 academic year, we worked to further establish the CRB as a platform to encourage critical discussions and debates about the topics of responsible and sustainable business and their broader societal implications.
With respect to events and convenings, we successfully ran the 2nd annual Patagonia Case Competition, 2nd annual Berkeley Sustainable Investment & Finance Forum, launched the 1st annual Microsoft Conference on Business, Technology, and Human Rights, and convened two forums: Collaborating to Drive the Adoption of Green Chemistry with Levi Strauss & Co. and Rewarding Consumers for Recycling Flexible Film Packaging with Kimberly-Clark. Moreover, our longstanding Rudolph Peterson Speaker Series enjoyed one of its best years yet with its thought-provoking events that regularly filled to capacity.
In the realm of curriculum, the undergraduate and MBA courses we oversee at Berkeley-Haas (~a dozen in total) are in good standing. Our courses include Strategic & Sustainable Business Solutions, Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund (HSRIF), Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Managing Human Rights in Business, and Food Venture Lab among a number of other excellent offerings. The CRB is part of the Institute for Business & Social Impact through which a suite of social impact minded courses are offered.
From the research perspective, we are building upon the longstanding traditions of the Moskowitz Research Prize for SRI/ESG research, the CRB now also serves as the institutional home for the new Investment for Impact Research Prize that awards outstanding research pertaining to the social impact of capital. We have also seeded a number of Berkeley-Haas cases with our close corporate partners that have been leveraged as the centerpieces of competitions and forums and are now available for adoption to university classrooms throughout the world. The CRB seeded case “Patagonia: Driving Sustainable Innovation by Embracing Tensions” won the 2017 Berkeley-Haas Case of the Year Award.
In all of these efforts, we made further strides to better leverage our CRB Student Advisory Board and are taking steps to better engage and connect our wonderful CRB Sr. Advisory Board with our students and activities on campus. More opportunities lie ahead for this.
We are also taking steps to better articulate our strategy and approach at the CRB. The figure below represents our initial effort to do this – and we warmly welcome your feedback. This figure depicts how we focus our efforts by considering areas of “Berkeley Strength” coupled with identifying “Global Challenges & Opportunities.” Through this, we have identified four focus areas at the CRB: Sustainable Investing & Finance, Human Rights & Business, Sustainable Supply Chain, and Sustainable Food. In light of the troubling political environment in which we collectively find ourselves, the CRB has also elevated social inclusion & climate change as two lenses through which we consider our work. We then identify the Companies that are likely to be great partners to engage in the associated activities while putting Students at the center of it all. When we get all of this right, we are more likely to achieve our mission to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future.
Looking ahead to 2017-18, we will further operationalize the efforts to put students at the center of everything we do and further expand our reach across the entire student body, drive deep impact through our focus areas, and further draw upon Berkeley Strengths and bring great Companies to the table. We already have a number of excellent events on the books and invite you to join us.
In closing, I would like to express my most sincere thanks to our wonderful staff here at the CRB – Dara, Eva, Faris, Marissa, and Seren – and all of our wonderful supporters including those of you who kindly contribute your financial support. We are 100% self-financed and would not exist without you. Do you have any questions or suggestions for me? Please come see me for an upcoming “Coffee with the CRB.”
Robert Strand, PhD
Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business