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February's focus: corporate social responsibility and sustainability

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By Terry Catchpole, CEO of the executive visibility strategy consultancy of the same name. Visit http://www.catchpole.com.

Noteworthy conferences taking place this month

From New York to London to Barcelona, February kicks off the year’s lineup of executive leadership events focused on corporate social responsibility and sustainability:

* On February 9 - 13, the highly-anticipated TED Conference will be held, at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in California. The TED (it originally stood for Technology, Entertainment, and Design) agenda is developed around a set of session topics, which for 2010 include Discovery, Boldness, Breakthrough, Wisdom, and Invention. Each topic sector has multiple speakers (approximately 50 in total) discussing aspects of each. Because of the demand for TED admission (the event reportedly sells out a year or more in advance), an ancillary venue has been created in Palm Springs, where attendees view the TED program live via satellite.

* Approximately 100 CEOs and chairman from major corporations worldwide will convene at the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s (CECP) Board of Boards CEO Conference on February 22 in New York. With a theme of Global Leaders: Solving Social Problems through Business Strategy, the event "will focus on game-changing issues and trends that will affect business and corporate community investment over the next 10 years." Board of Boards CEO Conferences will also be held in London in May and in Abu Dhabi in November.

* On February 25 in London approximately 150 senior executives with responsibilities in the area of sustainability will partake in the Economist Sustainability Summit to discuss the effects of climate change on business. This year’s theme is After Copenhagen: How Can Business Face the Climate Change Challenge? and topics are scheduled to include  “Creating a framework for a sustainable society”; “Level playing field for developing economies—what role will Copenhagen play”; and “The business case for carbon efficiency.” The event will be held at the Radisson BLU Portman Hotel.

* The Stanford Graduate School of Business Entrepreneurship Conference will take place February 26 on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto.  This is a student-run program that provides entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and students with information for evaluating and developing new opportunities and ideas. Topics are scheduled to include “Idea evaluation”; “Opportunities in the mobile industry”; and “Using social media as a marketing tool.”  The keynote speaker will be Isadore Sharp, founder, chairman, and CEO, Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels. 

* The Doing Good and Doing Well Conference (DGDW), jointly produced by the IESE Business School and Net Impact, will take place February 26 - 27, at the school’s campus in Barcelona. According to organizers, attendance is approximately 80 percent students and recent graduates from leading business schools across Europe and around the world, with the remaining 20 percent comprised of business professionals. Along with a focus on "major opportunities and challenges faced by responsible businesses and organizations," DGDW facilitates partnerships between industry professionals and graduate students in attendance. 2010 program theme is From Niche to Mass Market: Taking Responsible Business to the Next Level.

* Another student run event, the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, will take place February 27 - 28, on the HBS campus in Boston. Self-described as “a forum for exploring the synergies between for-profit, non-profit, and public sector approaches to addressing critical social issues," this year’s theme is New Frontiers: Redefining Service for the 21st Century. The conference is expected to attract 1,500 graduate students, faculty, business executives, and representatives of non-profit organizations and government agencies that are, for the most part, based in the Northeast (most of these attendees are also alumni).


Noteworthy conferences beginning agenda planning this month

* The beginning of February marks the beginning of agenda planning for Working Mother Media’s Best Companies for Multicultural Women National Conference. The program agenda typically consists of keynotes, discussion groups, workshops, and panels centered on themes such as "Advancing women of color in the workplace"; “Competing at the senior executive level”; and “Being an influencer with or without authority.” Speakers are corporate executives; public policy and human resource professionals; journalists; and academics. The 2010 conference will take place July 27 – 28 in New York.

* Agenda planning for Frost & Sullivan’s North American Growth, Innovation, and Leadership (GIL) Global Congress on Corporate Growth program will begin in early February. Event focuses on strategies and best practices for companies to achieve their growth objectives, and addresses such topics as capitalizing on growth opportunities through competitive intelligence; and customer-driven product innovation. Attendees are primarily c-level executives; presidents; VPs; and directors of R&D, business development, competitive intelligence, corporate strategy, marketing, sales, and market research. GIL 2010 will be held September 12 - 14 in California.

* The Ethical Corporation’s Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Communications Summit aims to provide senior executives from UK companies who are involved in corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting and/or communications programs within their companies with the tools to "create a readable, transparent and precise CR report." Organizers begin the agenda development process, which begins in mid-February, with "two months of research with the CSR community" to gain insight into current challenges and issues. The results form the foundation of the agenda. Speakers are typically corporate senior executives. 2010 program details have not yet been set, but the summit will likely take place in London in the fall.

* With a self-described aim "to be the most innovative and challenging conference on CSR in the Asia-Pacific region," the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Asia Summit focuses on the challenges and strategies related to integration of CSR into Asian business operations, with examination of best practices case studies and the current state of CSR in Asia. Agenda planning will begin in mid-February, and per the organizers, "agenda development and speaker selection are done by CSR Asia's expert team, who identify the most cutting-edge and valuable topics that would appeal to the target audience, and speakers are invited primarily through our existing networks."  The 2010 program will be held September 14 - 15 in Hong Kong.