In Good Company
Courtney Eckerle | Sunday, January 29, 2012
Heelys. Silly bandz. Leg warmers. Planking. Is corporate responsibility destined for the down-and-out fate of those here-today, gone-tomorrow college kid fads? Maybe. Or, is Gordon Gekko rolling over in his cinematic grave because the business world is about to be taken over by people who do not believe that greed, for lack of a better word, is good?
Companies and students alike are discovering just how important corporate responsibility is for both sides of the table. Dec. 2 marked the 10th anniversary of Enron’s implosion, and current college students seem to have become a product of the fallout. Lee Svete, the director of the Notre Dame Career Center, says he has “definitely” seen an increase in students’ interest in career paths paved with corporate social responsibility.
“It reflects both the culture of the company, and a commitment and an active plan to improve the lives of others as a result of business.”
Svete said companies who boast the same community service and involvement as colleges like Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s become a natural transition for students into an environment with similar values. There has been such an increase in interest that the campus’ Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) club will be hosting a 2nd annual event for students tied to the Winter Career Fair, inviting companies to conduct a panel on corporate responsibility and their own application of it.
Last year, the event had representatives from Proctor and Gamble, General Mills and General Electric speaking on ways their companies have implemented to integrate business and give back. This year, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills and General Electric will be returning, along with AT&T and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
SIFE, an organization that strives to bring together college students in “the shared mission of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business,” will be presenting the event as a project for a conference. SIFE maintains partnerships with Walmart, PepsiCo, Hersey’s and Lowe’s.
Junior Dagny Nagengast, president of SIFE, said last year’s creation of the event and its continuation through this year came from both a current desire and interest among students to “expand the presence of corporate social responsibility on campus.”
“We want to be able to present these types of people to companies, as well as introduce students to those kinds of companies,” Nagengast said.
She added that she has noticed an increase in students gravitating towards companies with a social message and mission.
“When you talk to people about what they want, they talk about how they really want to make an impact with the company they work with. [Notre Dame students] want to bring the strong ND camaraderie and heart into the business world.”
If Quidditch teams have somehow managed to become permanent on college campuses, then corporate responsibility stands to change its status from a trend to a fixture of our corporate future.