THE SHIFTING LANDSCAPE OF FOR-PROFITS
We’re at an interesting time in history, where corporations are being held to higher levels of accountability than ever before. We see companies like Microsoft focusing not only on building better versions of Office and Teams, but also on creating more affordable housing.
These changes are supported by the United Nations Global Compact initiative called Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME). Seattle Pacific University was the first Northwest university to sign at the inception of PRME in 2007 and is currently one of only five PRME Champion schools in the nation.
PRME includes 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that SBGE has embraced as a core component of how we teach and do research. These goals frame up all the big issues of our time, aligning well with our Christian faith and mission to “advance human flourishing.”
In order to see these goals realized by 2030, the private sector must get involved. Governments and nonprofits don’t control enough resources to accomplish the SDGs alone. That’s why we believe it’s important to teach the SDGs across all of SBGE’s component majors. As Kim Sawers, professor of accounting and PRME committee co-chair, says, “SDGs are a way of giving feet to our faith.”
SOHN’S RESEARCH UNCOVERS SURPRISING LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE ACTION AND FEDERAL POLICIES
Joon Sohn, assistant professor of international business, is currently researching how social movements affect environmental performance, in alignment with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate action. Using data from coal-fired facilities’ sulfur dioxide output, he’s discovered that contentious federal governmental policies can create a local environment that encourages companies to improve their environmental practices. For example, more sulfur dioxide was released in 2003–09 when stakeholders viewed the national Acid Rain Program favorably than in 2010–11 when the public did not trust the program. With support from local stakeholders, the distrust allowed social movement organizations, such as the Sierra Club, to successfully influence facilities to curb pollution.
THE VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS
Vicki Eveland, associate professor of marketing and operations management, calls herself a “Coke Zero addict.” She often jokes with students about her plans to attain the beverage, which is in short supply thanks to aluminum shortages. “I’m doing fine, because I have a strategy,” Dr. Eveland said, explaining how she orders the maximum allowance every time she picks up her groceries. “I’m as bad as people were about the toilet paper. I’m probably responsible for some of the shortage.”
Shortages are a telling sign of COVID-19’s impact on global supply chains, but the effects on working conditions, related to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, have been less visible to the general public.
“When a major disruption of supply or demand occurs, it accelerates problems all throughout the supply chain,” Dr. Eveland said. “While they may see the impact of these problems as they influence the availability of goods, the public can’t see how companies are changing their operations to overcome supply chain disruptions.”
Eveland hypothesizes that the pandemic’s turmoil creates an environment where violations may be ignored in the interest of production. She points to a study by Honeywell that found that 70 percent of workers don’t feel their workplace is safe.
Jeff Keenan ’83 is an independent consultant with more than 20 years of experience in supply chains. Near the beginning of the pandemic, he helped a business partner import masks to the United States from China in what “felt like a Wild West” atmosphere.
Even though Keenan and his business partner used due diligence to find a reputable broker and factory, an article in The New York Times named their chosen factory as using forced Uighur labor. The broker called Keenan and explained that the factory wanted to rectify the situation. Keenan connected the broker to a social responsibility expert who could help resolve the issue.
“When the supply chain is under stress, weaker links will show up,” Keenan said. “The heightened visibility will reveal where things are not being run responsibly. At the end of the day, if you have reputable players, you can do the right thing.”
Nathan Zetterberg ’12, MA ’15 is a corporate social responsibility consultant to the fishing industry. He said that investigative journalism and the documentary, Ghost Fleet, have uncovered human rights issues in the seafood industry in recent years, but many aspects of seafood supply chains lack transparency. “Seafood supply chains can be both complex and opaque,” he said. “It’s international, multijurisdictional, and often transient since the fish are always on the move. It’s a challenging industry, and Covid is making it worse.”
The industry relies heavily on migrant labor. At the beginning of the pandemic, border shutdowns caused many migrant workers to be locked out of their home countries without work. Despite the industry’s many challenges, Zetterberg is hopeful that companies will build safety nets and pay workers a living wage in the future. “Each node in the supply chain is filled with hard-working people who deserve safe working conditions, decent pay, and adequate health care. I am hopeful that this has been a year of awakening and reimagining how our supply chains work and how products move from A to Z.”
It’s still too early to know exactly how the pandemic will change supply chain operations going forward, but Eveland expects to see a third of employees working from home, a greater reliance on technology and automation, and more preparation for future disruptions. “Businesses are trying to figure out where to go from here,” she said. “There will likely be new guidelines regarding best practices for lean manufacturing. Forecasting models, process design, and other operational activities will likely be updated to help businesses be better prepared for when we face this type of situation again.”
INVESTING IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
As the pandemic continues to adversely affect the world’s most vulnerable people, reducing inequalities in and among countries may seem impossible. Global billionaires increased their collective wealth by more than 25 percent in 2020, according to a recent report, while the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report estimates COVID-19 will push 88 million to 115 million people into living on less than $1.90 per day.
Randy Beavers, assistant professor of finance, reminds students that their investment dollars can impact sustainable development goals (SDGs), such as SDG 10, which focuses on reducing inequalities.
“We’re taught to serve God and not money. Money is a tool that God has blessed us with in terms of our stewardship role,” he said. “Christians can demonstrate influence by voting with their dollar.”
In his Autumn Quarter spirituality and business course, students researched companies that address the SDGs and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. They discussed their findings and the implications they had on their own personal retirement planning.
Junior Rachel LaBrie said that before the class, all of her investments were focused on getting the highest returns possible, but afterward she changed her portfolio to focus on companies that value the SDGs and ESG. “While I can still make some money, I am also helping support companies whose values align with mine in hopes of living in a better world,” she said. “If I support companies with my money that are known for discriminating, or creating hostile work environments for their employees, then I am not following Jesus’ command to love my neighbor.”
LaBrie identified Clearwater Paper Corporation in the project because of their diverse and inclusive workplace and commitment to SDG 10.
“The SDGs and their relationship to finance are at a turning point,” Beavers said. “While the research is mixed if sustainability enhances the bottom line, this should not matter as it is simply the right thing to do and there is a push for this in the marketplace.”
For example, by 2022, 77 percent of institutional investors will stop buying products without an ESG focus, according to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Also, the CEO Business Roundtable still champions maximizing shareholder wealth but with a long-term perspective that considers other stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers, and the community. “Thus, it is not only a wise business decision to begin to consider our contribution to the SDGs, but also in light of our Christian witness as a good steward of resources God has placed in our hands for this critical time in human history,” Beavers said.
PRME COMMITTEE SUPPORTS SDG INTEGRATION IN CLASSES
Joon Sohn, assistant professor of international business, and Kim Sawers, associate dean for undergraduate studies, are co-chairing a PRME committee to develop resources for faculty and staff to further integrate sustainable development goals into core courses. The committee collects data on how the SDGs are currently taught and hopes to develop new sustainability related courses and a minor in sustainability management.
APPLY FOR OUR ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN DATA AND ANALYTICS
If you love data and analytics and are looking to take the next step in your career, apply for our Master of Science in Data and Analytics in Business (MS-DAB). The degree can be completed at your own pace, online or in the evenings on campus.
NEW FAITH & CO. FILMS AVAILABLE
Faith and Co. recently released nine new films, which each tell an inspiring story of how businesses are participating in God’s work in the world. Season three focuses on serving customers and season four focuses on serving communities and creation. The stories were filmed in South Africa, the Philippines, Uganda, Central America, and the United States. Let the films inspire you to serve God through your own business, and we’d love to see you in a course in the future.
KING COUNTY ELECTIONS DIRECTOR DEMYSTIFIES VOTING BY MAIL
Have you ever wondered about the intricacies of voting by mail in Washington state? What happens when a ballot is damaged? How do workers ensure your vote is private? How long does it take for your ballot to be counted? Julie Wise, director of King County Elections, answered these questions and more in the Dean’s Speaker Series on Oct. 27 over Zoom. The talk helped prepare students for the November election, and it is still a timely and interesting look into how voting works in Washington state.
WATCH POLLARD FELLOWSHIP PRESENTATIONS ON ZOOM
The Bill Pollard Faith & Business Research Fellowship was developed to bridge the gap between the work of academic business scholars and business practice. Helen Chung and Marcus Brauer discussed their papers on faith in the workplace at ServiceMaster over Zoom on Oct. 27. Dr. Chung’s paper is titled, “Servant Leadership at ServiceMaster: A Commitment to Love, Development, and Diversity.” Dr. Brauer’s paper is “Workplace Spirituality and the Tension Between Profit and People: the ServiceMaster Case.”
SBGE HONORS ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
This month, we honor Carol Kelly ’86 as SBGE Alumna of the Year and Joshua Cooper ’13 as SBGE Young Alum of the Year. Both Kelly and Cooper are members of SBGE’s Executive Advisory Board (EAB) and are prime examples of SBGE’s mission at work in the world.
Kelly had a trailblazing career with major companies, including Honeywell, Cisco, and Oracle. She retired as a financial executive from Oracle in 2017 and began serving SBGE in a myriad of ways. She’s volunteered in classes, mentored students, and is now part of the EAB executive leadership team.
Cooper is a CPA and manager who leads diversity and inclusion efforts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He sits on the board of directors of Disability Rights Washington and is also a founding board member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Community of Practice. He has been instrumental in connecting Sandra Mayo, vice provost for Inclusive Excellence, with other important players in Seattle’s diversity and inclusion sphere.
NEW STAFF AND FACULTY
SBGE welcomed five new hires this fall: Megan Gurdine Thornberry, Annie Kato, Audrey M. Kinase Kolb, Mohammad Qadam Shah, and Kirby White.
Megan Gurdine Thornberry, Graduate Program Advisor/Coordinator, BA, Loyola Marymount University, 2006; MFA, University of California Irvine, 2010
Megan Gurdine Thornberry spent the first half of her adult life immersed in the theatrical costume design profession and pivoted to become an international advisor at Bellevue College in 2014. She wholeheartedly embraces SBGE’s mission to champion the cause for human flourishing and loves to wander farmers’ markets, journal, cook, and travel in her spare time.
Annie Kato, Assistant Professor of Management, BA, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle (2009); MS, Baruch College, City University of New York, New York (2019); PhD, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York (expected 2021)
During the past three years, Annie Kato taught at Baruch College in New York, where she also worked as an associate consultant for a human resources management consulting firm. In 2019, Kato was awarded the James C. Johnson Student Paper Award for her work examining cognitive ability “tilt” patterns. After seven years on the east coast, Kato is happy to be back home in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband, Alex, (also an SPU alum) and their two sons. She is a member and volunteer at Trinity Baptist Church and enjoys travel, food, music, and the outdoors.
Audrey M. Kinase Kolb, Instructor of Data Analytics, BA, Pitzer College, California (Psychology); MA, Seattle Pacific University (Industrial-Organizational Psychology); PhD, Seattle Pacific University (expected 2021)
Audrey Kinase Kolb joins the SBGE team after serving as an adjunct professor at SPU, teaching the Program Evaluation and Multivariate Statistics courses. She is currently completing her dissertation, which tests the relationship between managerial coaching behaviors and various employee outcomes. As an instructor, she is dedicated to helping students navigate the unique struggles of COVID-19 through kindness and authenticity. She resides in Everett, where she is attempting to propagate succulents.
Mohammad Qadam Shah, Assistant Professor of Global Development, PhD, University of Washington, 2019; L.L.M, University of Washington, 2014; BA, Balkh University, 2012
Mohammad Qadam Shah was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh before joining SBGE this fall. Before pursuing his graduate studies in the United States, Qadam Shah lived in Afghanistan where he earned his bachelor’s in legal studies. He is currently investigating the political economy of budget allocation, the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts, and public finance reforms in Afghanistan. He is also co-writing a book on the consequences of centralized, Soviet-influenced governance institutions on conflict and state building in Afghanistan as well as Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq.
Kirby White, Instructor of Data Analytics, AA, Bellevue College (2007); BA, Seattle Pacific University (2014); MA, Seattle Pacific University (2019); PhD, Seattle Pacific University (expected 2021)
Currently a fourth-year doctoral student in the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program, Kirby White has worked as a graduate teaching assistant for several years in courses related to statistics, design thinking, and the integration of faith and practice. Before returning to SPU for graduate school, White worked as an external management consultant with Fortune 500 technology companies. Prior to consulting, he also worked as a firefighter and a church administrator, and he served in the United States Marine Corps. White and his wife, Bethany, live in Issaquah with their baby daughter.