On September 24, over 90 university students, professionals, and community members participated in the first ever St. Louis Net Impact Conference. The conference focused on how future leaders can make social and environmental change through business. The event, organized by WashU’s undergraduate Net Impact chapter, included a keynote address on Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) strategies, followed by six breakout sessions and a networking lunch break. The keynote speaker, Jake Barnett, a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, candidly engaged participants in a conversation about investing in the “Green Economy” and communicating these strategies to clients. Participants left with a better sense of the Triple Bottom Line (a performance measure of a company’s impact on people, planet, and profit) and a vision for the future of investing.
Participants also had the opportunity to participate in workshops ranging from beer brewing practices by Urban Chestnut to informational interviews with professionals working towards sustainability goals in five industries. After interacting with a range of sustainability professionals, one student commented, “I feel as though the non-profit environmentalist world usually assumes that businesses are working against sustainability. It is nice to see that that is not entirely true.” Workshop topics also included Women in Sustainable Design, Ethical Finance, Lean Startup for Social Enterprise, and Renewable Energy in Missouri. The diversification of workshops allowed participants to meet students and professionals with different backgrounds working towards a common goal: protecting the earth by shifting focus in business from valuing solely profits to valuing a healthy society, environment, and economy.
This article was written by Sarah Greenberg, a Green Office Program Associate.