Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wharton Social Impact welcomed at Wharton SF!

Today marked another landmark event in the annals of Wharton's presence in SF. In conjunction with the the Baker Retailing Center, and the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), the Wharton Program for Social Impact hosted a wonderful half-day event - "Creating Lasting Change: From Social Entrepreneurship to Sustainability in Retail".

The event featured two panels - one on social entrepreneurship and innovation and the second one on sustainability and CSR in the retail industry. It was attended by over 100 Wharton students and alums, a first in the history of Wharton at SF, to match the one-day Social Impact Conference held back East. We look forward to doing one better than the East Coast conference in the coming years!

The first panel had an amazing array of panelists - two entrepreneurs from vastly different industries and two representatives from the venture capital industry to give their perspectives on what they look for while investing in companies that build great products while at the same time keeping their employees, customers and the planet on top of their minds. The panel also briefly touched upon Flexible Purpose and Benefit Corporations and also GIIRS and measuring impact of impact investments.

The sustainability and CSR in retail industry also had great presentations - from Safeway, eBay, Levi Strauss and Annie's. While Safeway and eBay focused on how they were embracing social responsibility in several ways, Phil from Levi Strauss spoke about how they went about reducing water consumption in their product lifecycle - all the way from cotton manufacturers, to influencing customers to use less water to wash their jeans and also to remind them to donate to Goodwill when they were done with their jeans. Shauna from Annie's closed the panel with an insightful view into how they source the organically grown ingredients that made their way into Annie's food products.

After the sessions, the attendees had a great time networking with other attendees and the panelists. It was a beautiful day in SF and the views from the new campus provided a wonderful backdrop against which the event was held. We looked forward to many more events like this in future where Wharton can establish itself as a thought leader in the Bay Area on the social impact and impact investing front as well.