You may be aware of The Dialogue Project, an initiative I founded in 2019 and announced at that year’s Page annual conference. Today the program’s purpose remains the same as it was then: to explore how business can help reduce polarization and improve civil discourse in our society. Last year, I was delighted to collaborate with the leadership at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business where the Dialogue Project is now in residence.
We are actively creating new, important content valuable to both business leaders and business students. Working with a great team at Duke — Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding, Ronnie Chatterji, Elizabeth Hogan, Daisy Lovelace, Sim Sitkin, Sanyin Siang and Mike Schoenfeld, in addition to long-time colleague Russ Yarrow — we recently hosted a program called “The Calculus of Engagement,” a deep dive into how companies strategically approach corporate engagement with contentious social issues. Moderated by Ronnie Chatterji, a Fuqua professor currently serving as the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the discussion included Paul Argenti of the Tuck School of Business; Stacy Sharpe of Allstate and Juan Suarez of Southwest Airlines.
The one-hour discussion can be seen here. Some of the highlights:
It was clear from the discussion that the calculus of engagement is evolving into a strategic business discipline and companies like Allstate and Southwest are practicing this discipline with sophisticated and thoughtful approaches.
Given the high level of trust that global consumers have in business — which was quantified in the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer — Dean Boulding noted that businesses are at a “pivotal point” where they may be able to “stem the tide” of polarization. Boulding also expanded on this idea in a recent and very compelling LinkedIn video post, “Now Is the Moment: What Business Leaders Should Do.”
We’re excited about this new partnership with Duke University and look forward to building a robust platform for dialogue, best practices, research and other tools — not only to help businesses navigate this new landscape, but also to help prepare the next generation of business leaders to successfully manage in the evolving stakeholder economy.
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