Kellogg School of Management and AACR Convene a Joint Conference with Great Success
Chicago, October 15, 2009: The Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and the Association of Americans for Civic Responsibility (AACR) joined together to sponsor a very successful roundtable conference on “Social Responsibility in Small and Medium Size Enterprises” at Kellogg’s James Allen Center on October 15. The event was attended by about 40 invited attendees who included representatives and leaders from small and medium size businesses, academia, and public policy organizations. Professor Tim Feddersen of Kellogg kicked off the event emphasizing that the time has come to raise the level of awareness of corporate social responsibility among small and medium size businesses. Dr. Jamie Jones of Kellogg, in her opening remarks, outlined the desire of the university to include corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an integral part of the preparation of students who take business management majors at the Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Joy Cherian, the founder/President of AACR, coined a tag line for the conference in his presentation as to “Be Generous and Become Prosperous".
Joy Cherian, left, Rudy Pamintuan, Jim D ‘Angelo and Joe Melookaran
The first segment of the conference was on Unique Challenges of Social Responsibility in Small & Medium Enterprises moderated by Rudy Pamintuan, CEO of Sherman Worldwide and a former US Presidential Appointee from Chicago. The panelists were Joseph Melookaran CPA; a business leader from Kansas City and Mr. Jim D’Angelo, Regional Manager, Chicago based Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. Detailing various dimensions of corporate social responsibility, Melookaran chiefly emphasized the first dimension of corporate civic responsibility - commitment to and support for the community. “This can be a win-win for the business entity and community; and certainly it can be so impactful with appropriate intervention in the forms of institutional framework and a high level of public awareness and encouragement”, Melookaran said.
Mr. D’Angelo highlighted the significant benefits through socially responsible behavior; some of these benefits include a well-educated, stable, satisfied work force; a healthy environment; and a thriving community in which to live and do business. He narrated the opening of his Pizza Restaurants in many inner city communities following a conscious strategy of his company to do good for the community and to enhance the economic means of those who live in those communities.
Dr. Jamie Jones of the Kellogg School of Management speaks
“There is greater morale amongst employees whose companies have CSR” Pamintuan said. At his company Sherman Worldwide, CSR investments are part of fixed costs and the company has no choice but to generate revenue to cover costs. Since the interested organizations or individuals are much in need, as business owner, we always find a way to keep CSR commitments.
Tom Doherty, who was featured in the mainstream media for his exemplary CSR efforts, explained his initiatives to meet the community needs. His jewelry firm offers good employee policies and has adopted nine major small groups in the community (i.e. breast cancer, child care). His company builds theme-based jewelry that has benefited these small community organizations. He believes CSR has to be engrained in a company.
Cherian, Paul Lima and David Gomez
The second segment of the conference was on Sustaining a Socially responsible Focus in a Troubled Economy moderated by Dr. Joy Cherian. The presenters were Major General Paul Lima from Milwaukee and Dr. David Gomez, an Executive Search consulting firm CEO, headquartered in Chicago.
General Lima focused on CSR efforts by small and medium sized businesses and their potential impact on problems facing veterans returning from service in the Army. “In this extremely fragile economic environment, offering jobs for veterans is extremely invaluable” he said. The Army has relied on national guard/reserve lists, where 90% of people have jobs. It is very difficult to keep civilian jobs because of multiple tours of duty and most soldiers work for SMEs.
Tom Dougherty of Studio 2015 and Jennifer Eidson of Hill & Knowlton
Dr. David Gomez talked about business strategies such as austerity measures for SMEs that help those companies survive through these troubled economic times. With careful planning and execution SMEs can weather the storm and still be engaged in the community doing good. Community is also a stakeholder in their business and a stable community is good for the business.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Cherian expressed his hope that the US Small Business Administration (SBA) would consider including CSR component to their small business advisories and push the SMEs CSR focus at the policy level.
This conference was sponsored by Mr. Joseph Melookaran of JMA Chartered, Overland Park, Kansas. AACR appreciates his generosity.