Young People Make Tomorrow Their Business
01 August 2004

A Youth Forum on Ethical Leadership saw more than 40 students from across the UK and beyond gather together at the University of London.

LAST JUNE’S Youth Forum on Ethical Leadership saw more than 40 students from across the UK and beyond gather together at the University of London. The focus of the conference was corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the business environment, and in the wider world. ‘There is a theory in economics,’ Phil Hammond, a delegate from Leeds, told me, ‘that if someone gets rich someone else has to get poor. It will be interesting to see if there is an alternative’.

The event was coordinated by AIESEC, a non-profit organization that aims to help young people develop into responsible and socially conscious business leaders through arranging international internships and exchange programmes. It has branches in over 80 countries and more than 30,000 student members who are responsible for their own local committees, managing exchange programmes and promoting the organization to other students. In the process they gain valuable business and leadership experience.

The first day opened with thought-provoking lectures from David Grayson, a well-respected commentator on responsible business practice, and Sir David King, the British Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. Dr Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environment Forum, chaired a
workshop on sustainability on day two, while day three welcomed back an AIESEC alumnus, Charlotte Wolff, who is now working as Corporate Responsibility Manager for the mobile phone company mmO2.

The conference is the first of its kind for a number of years but organizers Lynsey Abernethy and Paul Vivash hope it will become an annual event. During the 1990s AIESEC used to run a two-week summer academy on CSR but closed it in 1998 in order to focus on the exchange programme. With the latter initiative now running well Abernethy and Vivash saw the opportunity to expand AIESEC’s activity in the UK and make the delegates ‘aware of some of the broader issues of business’, says Vivash. ‘If they stick to the principles learned here then AISEC will have had an impact.’
Sarah Calkin


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