Business Solves Day 1: Cultivating Business Growth in the Pandemic Era

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent societal shifts, businesses have been evolving with the times and working toward both growth and positive impact.

Air Date: November 17, 2021

Moderator: Kwasi Mitchell, Chief Purpose Officer, Deloitte, Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company, Nicholas Sukitsch, Core Member, Health Care, Social Impact & Public Sector practices, BCG, Marc DeCourcey, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Jennifer Lotito, President and COO, (RED), Kyla Fisher, Sustainability and Circular Economy Fellow, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Julie Gehrki, Vice President of Philanthropy, Walmart, Traci Griffin, VP, Head of Global Clinical Trial Services, Bayer

Featured Guests: Thomas J. Wilson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Allstate Corporation, JB Holston, CEO, Greater Washington Partnership, Tamika Tremaglio, Greater Washington Managing Principal, Deloitte, Jill Huntley, Managing Director, Accenture, Michael Carney, Senior Vice President of Emerging Issues, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Nisha Biswal, Senior Vice President, International Strategy and Global Initiatives and South Asia, Bob White, Executive Vice President and President, Medical Surgical Portfolio, Medtronic, Dr. Julie Gerberding, Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President, Merck & Co., Inc., Wes Wheeler, President, UPS Healthcare, Jeremy Konyndyk, Executive Director of the USAID COVID-19 Task Force, Stephanie Potter, Head of Sustainability, Nestle USA, Haley Lowry, Global Sustainability and End Use Marketing Director, Dow, Brent Bell, Vice President, Recycling, Waste Management, Gena McKinley, Strategic Initiatives Division Manager, City of Austin, Texas, Emily Yates, Smart City Director, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Kotlarczyk, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Waste Reduction, Walgreens, Mark Ryan, VP, Head Site Management, Americas Region, Bayer

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with subsequent economic, political, and social shifts, forced businesses across the country to change how they operate. They’ve pivoted, adapted and ultimately, evolved, and now they are looking ahead to a future of growth and positive societal impact.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation addressed this evolution during its two-day Corporate Citizenship Conference and Awards: Business Solves event. During the sessions, experts explored the role of business in society, its achievements, and how to maintain progress.

Here are four highlights from the first day of the conference, including cultivating purposeful growth, how organizations are learning from vaccination efforts, and the key to building a circular economy.

Employers Can Foster Employees' Personal Purpose for Organizational Growth

As health and social issues continue throughout the world, employees are searching for a deeper meaning and purpose within their livelihoods. For employees to grow within your organization, help them find this personal purpose, said Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate.

“We don't link [personal purpose] to our company purpose,” Wilson explained. “The logic is: you give to get. So if we give you the opportunity to figure out what your personal purpose is, you'll find a way to embed the [company's purpose].”

Wilson added that corporate resilience is similar to personal resilience, which is why helping employees find their personal purpose will ultimately lead to resilience within the company.

“If you know what you want to do then it gives you that energy to stick with it,” said Wilson. “If it's not important to you, you're not going to be resilient … so the corporation has to be important to individuals and … to society.”

Businesses Should View Inclusive Growth as an Economic Opportunity

Inclusive growth has become an increasingly present topic as the pandemic continues to reveal social and economic inequities throughout the country. Inclusive growth should be seen as not only a moral imperative but also an economic opportunity, said JB Holston, CEO of Greater Washington Partnership.

“If we can make progress [in] closing some of the historic equity [and] wealth gaps that exist, there’s a $50 billion dollar per year GDP opportunity for the [Baltimore to Richmond] region alone,” he said.

This growth should begin with inclusive leadership so everyone within the organization is able to be fairly heard and represented.

“Each of us brings a unique set of experiences and viewpoints shaped by a myriad of factors,” said Tamika Tremaglio, Greater Washington Managing Principal for Deloitte. “Being inclusive is really the key to effectively leading.”

Public-Private Partnerships Are Being Created from Vaccine Distribution Efforts

Some companies have been able to grow in spite of the pandemic, especially public and private companies that have partnered to lead vaccine distribution efforts.

“I think partnership is the theme word of this entire pandemic,” said Julie Gerberding, chief patient officer and EVP of Merck. “For any of the important countermeasures that have come forward, it has really taken the entire ecosystem of partnerships.”

“When this is all said and done, we really need to examine these partnerships and understand how [we can] truly learn from these experiences and embed them in a different way of operating ... to solve some of the other global health problems that we have,” she continued.

Partnering With the Community Is Key to Growing a Circular Economy

More and more businesses are taking steps to adhere to a circular economy. This concept allows businesses to keep recyclable materials in a closed-loop system for as long as possible. Efforts to maintain a circular economy may be futile unless you communicate with your community, said John Kotlarczyk, Jr., senior director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Waste Reduction at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“I think that direct community involvement dealing with the people that know those communities… is the center of what we do,” he said. “[We] talk with people that are on the ground there and [try to] figure out: where does their city want to go?”

“I say all the time, we didn't create all the problems we're dealing with on our own... and we're not gonna solve them on our own, so that piece of collaboration is key to us,” Kotlarczyk added.


Melissa Brotz,

Vice President of Global Marketing and External Affairs, Abbott

John Brothers,

President, Foundation, T. Rowe Price

Jeff Terry,

Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability, GAF

Steve Adler,

Mayor of Austin, Texas