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Cultivating A Sustainable Advantage

by Laurie Griffith

How often do we see a headline about a public figure or corporate executive and wonder, “What was he thinking?”  Or, we see polluted waters from production waste and think, “There must be a better way.”  As businesses face rapid changes in technology, increasing pressure for profits and competing interests from stakeholders, the “clear answer” of what is right or wrong in the workplace is becoming a cloudier choice.  Business leaders are increasingly scrutinized by the public and their employees as they navigate the ethical dilemmas that force them to choose among justifiable alternatives that may have mixed consequences.

In 2015, Emerson, a long-standing civic leader in the St. Louis community, furthered its 23 year partnership with Saint Louis University (SLU) by pledging $3 million to launch the Emerson Leadership Institute (ELI) within the John Cook School of Business at SLU ( The ELI will establish a leadership “hub” that supports programs with core tenets of ethics and responsible leadership.  October 7, 2015 marks the official launch of the Emerson Leadership Center, with an inauguration and dedication ceremony at SLU.

David Webb, a Saint Louis University alumni, spent 15 years in the corporate world as an IT Consultant prior to joining the Center for Sustainability at SLU in 2010.  Recently appointed as Director of the Emerson Leadership Institute, Webb oversees ELI’s program development and operations.  His background in sustainability and corporate leadership shapes his belief in the “triple bottom line,” i.e., environment, society and economy as it relates to sustainable business.

Webb sees a close connection between sustainability and ethical business leadership.  “To be sustainable, businesses need to care about the environment and the community,” Webb explains.  “Sustainability in business is about more than considering your organization’s impact on the environment.  It is about principle-oriented leadership, values-driven decision making, innovative operations, responsible profitability and creating practical solutions to complex problems for the benefit of the company and society. Sustainable business is ethical business.“

ELI’s planned curriculum will rest on three pillars:
1. Academic Programs, including education and training via on-line programs in executive development addressing sustainability initiatives, ethics & compliance, and workforce inclusion & diversity.
2. Research Programs, to develop a stewardship program of scholars and fellows (community leaders in business, non-profit and governmental organizations) to promote research and bring the academic and business communities together for dialogue and collaboration that might not otherwise occur.
3. Community Engagement, via conferences and a speaker series, to help community leaders learn more about ethics and responsible business.

In April 2015, ELI’s conference series kicked off with the “Leadership Matters” series, bringing together thought leaders and experts on workforce diversity and inclusion to explore initiatives to build a diverse and inclusive workforce in Saint Louis.  

As part of the continuing curriculum, the ELI and Lopata Flegel will collaborate to host a Business Ethics seminar to address the ethical concerns that CPAs encounter.  Join us on October 23 from 7:30 – 10:00 a.m. at the Emerson Leadership Center at Saint Louis University. The event is complimentary; however, registration is required.  Two hours of Ethics CPE for CPAs will be awarded to attendees.  To reserve your seat and to view the agenda, visit or

Laurie Griffith is a principal at Lopata, Flegel & Co.  Accountants and Management Consultants.  Join us at the free monthly Sharp & On Point Business Advisory Speaker Series from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at the Lodge Des Peres. (Please note the location and time change for our October event.)  Learn business strategies you can immediately put in place to point your business in the right direction.  For more information, visit

Submitted 8 years 62 days ago
Categories: categorySharp & On Point
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