writers, and doers for speaking engagements.
We treat innovation as an investment: something that we do, regardless of how difficult, risky, or potentially unsuccessful it may be, because it’s worth it. Why not treat corporate social responsibility the same way? That is the question posed by SARAH KAPLAN, a former McKinsey alum turned premier MBA professor. In her rousing talks, she shows us how to reposition our biggest struggles—gender equality, diversity, the environment—into innovation challenges that will transform our organizations, making us more creative and more resilient along the way.
In her latest book The 360° Corporation, Kaplan reveals how companies, from Nike to Walmart, have risen to meet the challenges of modern business—where the name of the game is no longer to turn a profit, but to turn a profit while making a positive contribution to society. Combining razor-sharp business savvy with a rigorous academic approach, she offers an eloquent and strategic plan for leaders, managers, and executives hoping to create lasting, transformative change.
“As business leaders, we evaluate and make trade-offs every day. Sarah Kaplan has prepared a cogent guidebook to help turn these events into strategic opportunities to capture value.”— Dave Stangis, VP of Corporate Responsibility, Campbell Soup Company
Kaplan also serves as the Director at the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) at the Rotman School of Management. There, she zeroes in specifically on solving gender inequality (another innovation challenge), both in the world of business and the economy at large. When the coronavirus pandemic laid bare the enormous inequalities still present in our economy, the Institute released a report on why we need a feminist recovery plan. “If we look at the impact from a health and economic standpoint, it is disproportionately on those with intersecting identities. You wouldn’t be able to have an economic recovery without paying attention to who is impacted and why,” Kaplan explains, noting that women workers have borne the brunt of the economic losses. “We actually won’t get economic recovery if we don’t get to things that are holding women back.”
Prior to The 360° Corporation, Kaplan co-authored the bestseller Creative Destruction, as well as Survive and Thrive: Winning Against Strategic Threats to Your Business. She was formerly a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (where she remains a Senior Fellow), and has cultivated nearly a decade of consulting and innovation experience at McKinsey & Company. Her previous research has covered biotechnology, fiber optics, financial services, nanotechnology, and most recently, the field emerging at the intersection of gender and finance. Kaplan completed her doctoral research at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and holds a BA with honors in Political Science from UCLA, and an MA in International Relations and International Economics with distinction from Johns Hopkins University.
Our quest for gender equality in the economy has plateaued. In an attempt to reignite progress, many organizations are making an economic argument for diversity, suggesting that hiring more women is good for business. But Sarah Kaplan—a University of Toronto Distinguished Professor of Gender and the Economy—argues that the “business case” may actually be doing more harm than good. It sends signals that women need to be better than men in order to be included in corporate leadership. In this talk, Kaplan busts the myth of meritocracy, showing us how it unintentionally reinforces privilege and actually stagnates progress toward gender equality. Instead of making a business-minded argument, she explains how treating the diversity challenge as an innovation problem will net bigger rewards.