ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA
ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA

Chelsea Clinton was among a group of global leaders who convened in Riggs Library on Wednesday to cap the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Agenda Council on Values, where experts drafted a document that proposed ways to rebuild trust between business, government and society earlier this week.

The event, “The New Social Covenant: Committing to Human Dignity and Common Values in the Global Economy,” which was sponsored by the World Economic Forum, marked the conclusion of a two-day symposium.

To write the New Social Covenant, various experts privately convened at Georgetown Monday and Tuesday to work on the literature that was first presented in Davos, Switzerland in January. The covenant calls for businesses, government, religious groups and citizens to agree to universal ethical values, reduce inequality in the workforce and prioritize environmental concerns.

“The historic social contract between business, government and society seems to be broken, and the legitimacy of corporations has reached a low point,” the covenant reads.

The event’s three conversations in Riggs highlighted different aspects of the collapse and intended rebuilding of a social contract.

Council Vice Chair Michael Gerson, a columnist for The Washington Post and senior advisor to the ONE Campaign, interviewed Diana Farrell, director of McKinsey & Company and former deputy director of the National Economic Council. Farrell spoke about economic policies, especially in relation to corporations, whose social responsibility departments, she said, merely plastered over problems.

“The most important thing is inequality within wage compensation,” Farrell said. “It’s a technology story, an automation story, but I would argue that it’s a societal tolerance story.”

Farrell described a shift from a society that has a market economy to a market society, where all aspects of life are reduced to numbers and monetary values.

“People who have less have even less access,” she said.

Farrell said that these pressing issues are increasingly being raised but that too few resources exist to meet these challenges. She highlighted the importance of innovation and trust-building in government.

“The strength and weakness of the U.S. system is that government was established here as the trustee of the status quo,” Farrell said.

After Farrell and Gerson spoke, University President John J. DeGioia conversed with Clinton, who was representing the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The two discussed the role of philanthropy in relation to the New Social Covenant.

“Delineating the responsibility of government versus business versus philanthropy is really important,” Clinton said. “What gets rendered unto whom is important … because we can hold these institutions accountable.”

Clinton, who expressed her initial desire to follow a different path from her parents’ political careers, largely discussed the work of the Clinton Foundation as an example of philanthropic responsibility.

“I don’t think we’re short on optimism or ambition, admittedly. I think we have a sense of things we can’t do, though,” she said. “We try to be really judicious [and try] to have other people solve problems [when] we’re not the right actor.”

The last conversation took place between keynote speaker Jim Wallis, the president of Sojourners magazine and council chair, and Stewart Wallis, the executive director of the New Economic Foundation, of no relation to Jim Wallis.

Stewart Wallis spoke about the degradation of values in the economic system.

“I would say we’ve got markets as religion and I think that’s very dangerous,” he said.

Jim Wallis advocated a “wisdom-based economy.”

“Let’s not have a values seminar every year at Davos and then go back to our places of work and not see anything change,” he said. “I’ve learned most about the world from being in places I wasn’t supposed to be or with people I wasn’t supposed to ever meet.”

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