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Thunderbird and ASU join UN Global Compact Network USA as official academic partner

Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan created the U.N. Global Compact (UNGC) 18 years ago to align corporations on 10 universal sustainability principles and give globalization a human face. 

The compact combines U.N.’s global reach with tools and best practices from business. It offers a roadmap for organizations, companies and governments to be able to align core business capabilities with society’s pressing needs. 

By incorporating the Ten Principles of the U.N. Global Compact into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also are setting the stage for long-term success. They are able to do well by doing good. And by joining the UNGC, businesses are able to launch their corporate responsibility onto a global stage. 

Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University is joining the Global Compact Network USA (GCNUSA) as its official institutional and academic partner. The network is a national collection of the U.S.-based companies that are participants of the United Nations Global Compact.

Driving change on humanity’s most critical challenges

Sanjeev Khagram, dean and director-general of Thunderbird, announced the partnership at the first joint event, an annual gathering to explore corporate sustainability

This partnership will include bringing together members of the Global Compact Network USA, faculty and the larger Thunderbird and ASU community for research, joint events, student projects and internships. 

As Network USA’s knowledge partner, Thunderbird and schools within ASU will support members’ work through wide-ranging activities in order to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a call to address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

“The U.N. Global Compact is critical in linking the United Nations and private sector to drive change on humanity’s most critical challenges,” said Khagram. “This partnership is exciting for Thunderbird and the larger ASU family. It represents everything Thunderbird has stood for since its inception over 70 years ago, which is to train global leaders who can create sustainable prosperity worldwide.”

Continuing Thunderbird’s legacy 

For years, Thunderbird has taught students and global executives about how important it is to have companies make a positive social impact in addition to a positive financial impact. Corporate social responsibility is no longer "nice to have" – it’s a competitive imperative.

Richard Pearl, chairman of the board of the Global Compact Network USA, said Thunderbird’s deep expertise in corporate social responsibility and its longstanding history of partnering with the corporate sector are huge assets for the U.N. Global Compact. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Thunderbird. Thunderbird showed us how passionate they were about the work. Dr. Khagram’s longstanding involvement with the Global Compact also was an important factor in our decision.”

Doing good & well

Launched in 2007, the Global Compact Network USA is one of several U.N. Global Compact local chapters around the globe. Network USA is a nonprofit organization that supports U.S.-based entities in:

  • Operating in alignment with the Ten Principles of the Global Compact.
  • Engaging with and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Leveraging their association with the Global Compact and United Nations and its global resource network.
  • Facilitating and creating opportunities for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

The Global Compact Network USA is made up of more than 500 organizations, including nearly 200 corporations. Companies on the list include Microsoft Corporation, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co., Hershey Company, Tyson Foods, Kellogg, Clorox Company, General Electric Company, Ford Motor Company, Accenture, The Dow Chemical Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike and Dupont, among many others.

Thunderbird and ASU’s partnership with the U.N. Global Compact comes on the heels of increasing awareness that the private sector can and must play a critical role in advancing sustainability in general and in achieving the SDGs specifically. The business sector is facing pressure to take part in the fight against climate change, and companies are facing pressure to operate as model corporate citizens. 

The concept of purpose and planet over profit is becoming mainstream, as the SDGs gain traction in inequality, climate, environmental degradation, peace and justice and the fight against poverty. That’s a trend Thunderbird and ASU are happy to be part of.