Social Business Event

Keen to understand more about hot topic social business, some 60 guests made their way through the cold on the 15th November to the Australian Embassy for a round table discussion on the subject.

The theme of the panel discussion was: “Social business is a new business paradigm.  But when is business acting socially?  Are the moral obligations of business changing? Does it mean beefing up existing corporate responsibility departments or something new?”

ABIE President Bernard Tabary opened the proceedings, welcoming guests and introducing Moderator Kelly Saunders, Senior Lawyer at Keolis & ABIE board member. The panel consisted of Claudia Schulz, PhD Candidate in Business Strategy at HEC Paris, Gayle Hardie, Co-founder of the Global Leadership Foundation, Neil Barrett, Group Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Sodexo and Armelle Weisman, Partner at Deloitte, Développement Durable.  Their biographies can be found at the end of the article.

Kelly swiftly educated the audience about social business and the informative discussion was aimed at inspiring attendees to consider how social business can become a part of their future.  With some hard hitting questions prepared, the audience was well engaged as the topic developed, covering social entrepreneurs and startups, the role and power of multi-nationals in this area, whether multi-nationals can do something big with social business or will it always be an “add-on”, doing good work but often without real impact on the core business bottom line.  This was closely followed by an observation on social business over the past 15 years and the role of business schools/academics on business acting socially.

The discussion concluded with questions from the audience, who were now up to speed on the fast- paced developments in this field.  Andrew Wills, First Secretary, Australian Embassy Paris, thanked the panel warmly for their impressive and inspiring insights into the broad-reaching topic.

At the cocktail which followed, there was animated discussion and networking before guests departed for the evening.


Panel Moderated by Kelly Saunders, Senior Lawyer at Keolis, ABIE board member

Kelly has 15 years experience in law, policy and evaluation for government and business with expertise in business law, diversity and public transport projects. Serving on the ABIE board she has represented ABIE in the Australian parliamentary inquiry into the BREXIT, considering the impact on the future Australia and Europe FTA.  Before joining Keolis in Paris, she was General Counsel for Yarra Trams in Melbourne. This year Kelly prepared the NYT diversity debate at the Global Women’s Forum: “Daring to lead in a disruptive world”.  She is active in progressive womens’ networks in France and Australia including SNCF au Feminin and the Victorian Women’s Trust.

Claudia Schulz, PhD Candidate in Business Strategy, HEC Paris

Claudia completed her Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Ecole Centrale Lyon and work with European firms Airbus and Bosch. After 5 years working in industry, she started a full-time doctorate. Her research focuses on how firms can measure their social impact and its relationship to a firm’s market performance. She enjoys challenging the theory of capitalism as the world sees it today, and would like to see it working for more people.  Claudia is an active member of the Society and Organizations Research Centre.

Gayle Hardie, Co-founder, Global Leadership Foundation

Gayle is passionate about making a positive difference to business and communities.   She brings over 30 years of expertise in leadership development and transformation, , organisational change, Board and executive mentoring and coaching and strategic human resource management. She currently works with boards and senior management teams in some of Australia’s leading organisations on subjects including emotional health and leadership resilience and collaboration.   Gayle is a Fellow of Leadership Victoria and a recipient of the Business and Professional Women’s Community Leadership Award.

Neil Barrett, Group Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Sodexo

In 2009, after 7 years as CEO Sodexo Australia and NZ, Neil took on the role of Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sodexo Remote Sites and Asia – Australia. In 2010 he took on his present role at Sodexo’s HQ in Paris. He is responsible for deploying Sodexo’s corporate responsibility roadmap Better Tomorrow 2025 which highlights the company’s efforts to improve Quality of Life for its stakeholders and its commitments to local communities, health and wellness and the environment including responsible sourcing.  Neil has 39 years business experience, working in leadership roles in international shipping, asset security, passenger rail transportation and engineering manufacturing.

Armelle Weisman, Partner at Deloitte, Développement Durable

An entrepreneur in the field of consulting in corporate social responsibility, Armelle founded TroisTemps in 2006, after graduating from Sciences-Po. In 2008, she created a digital start-up “culture networks” which is at the forefront of communities platforms for the cultural sector. Armelle joined the Deloitte CSR team specialising in innovation and transition support for organisations, supporting many actors in sustainable development, societal commitment and social innovation.  She is an associate professor at Paris 7 and managing director of Réseau Entreprendre and member of the community 10 Générations pour la Culture. She regulary hosts hackathons, boot camps and other social collaborations.