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Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business Launches Responsible Business Coalition

Announcements | Oct 02, 2020 |

On Oct. 2, the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University officially announced the launch of the Responsible Business Coalition (RBC), an incubator that combines the power of industry and academia to identify and implement sustainable business solutions for some of the world’s most challenging environmental and social problems. The goal of the RBC is to improve the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact of industries worldwide and to foster values-based education.

“The Gabelli School views business as a regenerative force for prosperity,” said Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of the Gabelli School of Business. “Our mission is about educating compassionate, global business leaders who want to make positive change.” 

Cara Smyth, the founder of the Responsible Business Coalition, added, “The pandemic made it clear that cross-sector collaboration to develop data-driven ESG management and actionable solutions is required to address the world’s challenges. From CEOs to students, we all have a role to play in building the next generation of responsible and resilient business.”

The RBC’s Future Fashion Coalition, a subgroup that has convened 41 fashion CEOs worldwide, is already transforming the industry with a focus on social innovation. Its recent report, “Resilient Management in the Age of Responsible Retail,” issued in September by the RBC and global consulting firm Accenture and published by Women’s Wear Daily, cites ESG as “the new management approach” for the fashion, beauty, and retail industries. Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette called the paper “the beginning of a roadmap” for fashion and retail’s collective efforts. “There are some challenges that no single brand can solve alone and that we as an industry need to tackle together,” he stated. “The disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused is significant. But there is an opportunity for us to work together to rebuild global supply chains in a more sustainable way.”

The RBC’s partnership between academia and industry delivers benefits to business students at the Gabelli School in the form of new courses such as Sustainable Fashion, introduced this fall. Plans are also underway for future curricular and co-curricular offerings such as guest lectures, real-world case studies, consulting projects, executive workshops, and a sustainability internship program. Noting the breadth of programming, RBC Executive Director Frank Zambrelli shared that “the coalition creates a platform for strong learning loops and contemporary content, leveraging the research created to transform not only business, but also business education for future leaders of industry.”

Forming an important part of that content is the RBC’s new Fast Forward Conversation Series, kicking off at the end of 2020 with influential journalists and editors conducting power interviews with global leaders in business, government, academia, and the social sector. The 15-minute sessions will be followed up with 40-minute moderated sessions including panels of speakers who, according to Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., associate dean of undergraduate studies and strategic initiatives at the Gabelli School, “unpack the highlights and dive deeper into the topics discussed.”

The Future Fashion Coalition is a “blueprint” for groups the RBC is forming in other industries, such as finance, media and advertising, food, technology and analytics, consumer packaged goods, and beauty and health, Aksoy said. “We believe we have to engage multiple stakeholders. The RBC is a place where we convene CEOs, faculty, and students and have conversations about the various issues different industries face. Then we follow up to catalyze action.”

Launched in the Gabelli School’s centennial year, Rapaccioli said the RBC serves as a hub for collaborations that respect people, planet, and profit: “The RBC’s transformational network will strengthen and integrate ties to business, ESG research, and curricula to accelerate the global impact of the Gabelli School of Business and Fordham’s Jesuit education for our next 100 years.”

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