What a day! Last week Towson University celebrated the 20th Anniversary of its Economic Outlook Conference (EOC), while the University released its economic impact report for its 150th anniversary.

Anniversaries offer an opportunity to reflect, but importantly, particularly for Towson University, we use this time to also look forward to our exciting future. We are a university embracing growth, change, innovation and new opportunities.

Economic Outlook Conference

Attendees listen to panelists discuss the benefits of conscious capitalism.

Apropos of looking forward, Dr. Irani presented his Maryland Economic Forecast. While some in attendance seemed dismayed that his prediction indicated a slowdown in the economy on the horizon, the research was telling and provided substantive information useful to business, government and individuals alike.

Embracing new and dynamic concepts, the theme of the Economic Outlook conference was Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism is an integrated management approach where a company values giving back to the community, embraces all stakeholders, and creates a culture that considers the overall sustainability and purpose of the organization in its decision making. Partnering with the Central Maryland Chapter for Conscious Capitalism enhanced the program and brought thought-provoking speakers and panelists forward, who throughout the conference held lively discussions during the question and answer period.

Ed Freeman

Ed Freeman is a leader in stakeholder management.

We were lucky to have Ed Freeman kick off our morning session. Ed has really led the conversation on Conscious Capitalism and stakeholder management theory at the national level. His talk was imbued with humor (Isn’t business ethics an oxymoron? You know, like jumbo shrimp!) and really made the case as to why integrating all stakeholders (governmental bodies, political groups, trade associations, trade unions, communities, financiers, suppliers, employees, customers) allows for corporations to be more profitable in the long run. In fact, ‘conscious’ businesses consistently outperform the market (S&P Index) by a factor of 10.5.

The luncheon keynote speaker, John Montgomery, discussed the advent of the “B” Corp or Benefit Corporation. B Corps go hand-in-hand with the Conscious Capitalism movement, allowing businesses to create a mission-driven company. Maryland was an early adopter of this form of incorporation that from a legal perspective empowers companies to make decisions based on what is good for all stakeholders and not just a return on investment for shareholders only.

In all, it was a very interesting day. I look forward to next year’s conference.