THE BLOG

One Young World: The Future of Business Leadership

11/22/2013 03:29 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014
  • Kathy Calvin President and CEO, the United Nations Foundation

One of the best parts of serving on The B Team is the opportunity to spend time with so many people who work tirelessly to make our world a better place.

Being in the room with 1,500 One Young World (OYW) delegates from 190 countries last month was one such opportunity.

The B Team is united in our belief that business as usual is no longer an option. To hear the same from an army of entrepreneurs, activists, business leaders and innovators from every corner of the globe -- who are already demonstrating new ways of doing business -- was truly inspiring.

At this "Special Session" of The B Team, alongside Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Guilherme Leal, Jochen Zeitz, Professor Muhammad Yunus and Shari Arison, I was pleased to hear the delegates' views on the "Future of Business Leadership" and how, in their view, we can restore ethics and bold leadership in business during such volatile and uncertain times.

How might we rebuild hope and opportunity in a world where millions of young people are unable to find decent work, where climate change is rapidly destroying livelihoods and inequalities have reached frightening levels?

As I pondered these questions, One Young World delegates duly reminded me, in an uplifting presentation of their Charter on the "Future of Business Leadership," that in fact there is great hope for the future, but only if we can truly empower people across boundaries, industries, sectors and generations to collaborate and solve problems together. They embodied the principle that business as usual will only change if we first change ourselves.

As we reflected on the points outlined by the OYW Charter, we were all reminded that a critical role for The B Team is to listen, lift up others and accelerate the thousands of solutions that already exist in businesses and communities around the globe.

The first point in the charter calls on business leaders to "empower young employees." We feel that this is critical: In order for a new way of doing business to really thrive, we need to nurture and support a generation of new leaders who really understand what it means to drive benefit for people and the planet, not just pursue profit.

The second point in the charter focuses on scaling "purpose beyond profit." We agree. We want to live in a world where all businesses exist to drive social and environmental benefit as a core part of their mission. That's why we are so delighted that Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, has joined us on the team.

TOMS is just one of many great examples of companies around the world that have been forged with social purpose at their core. In the years ahead we want to find ways of supporting entrepreneurs and accelerating the creation of new companies like TOMS that truly place people and planet alongside profit. As Professor Yunus called for on the day, "we need people to go out and create social businesses which really solve the world's problems." We hope millions of people can respond to this call to action from Muhammad Yunus and the growing movement of companies that are inventing better ways of doing business.

The final point in the charter calls for disruptive "collaboration." We wholeheartedly agree with the One Young World delegates on this point. For the last century, companies have focused on competing and consuming, while our planet and its people have paid a high price.

One of the reasons we need a "Plan B for business" is that companies today need to find ways to work together, to drive well-being for all and conserve the earth's precious resources.

If we don't find smart ways of collaborating, we will be unable to mobilize the global collective action that is urgently needed to address humanity's most pressing problems.

As we move forward, we look forward to working alongside One Young World leaders and ambassadors, as well as thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world, to accelerate the movement for better business toward a tipping point, and build global pressure for lasting change in business.