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Academy Program Considers How Corporate America Can Help Solve Social Challenges in the Post-Crisis Economy


Press Release

NEW YORK, NY – The recent financial crisis has exposed serious flaws in the relationship between corporate America and the larger society, but it has also provided an extraordinary opportunity to reexamine and rebuild that relationship for the new century. On November 30, 2009, Rajat K. Gupta and Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. discussed these issues at an American Academy of Arts & Sciences event in New York City entitled “Challenges to Business and Society in the 21st Century: The Way Forward.”

Gupta is Senior Partner Emeritus of McKinsey & Company, Chairman of the Board of Genpact Ltd., and a Fellow of the American Academy. Ferguson is President and CEO of TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Gupta spoke of the need for business, government, and the public to cooperate to solve “intractable problems that neither the public sector nor private sector can tackle alone.” For the smart business, engagement with major social problems is not mere philanthropy or image building, but is “enlightened self-interest, based on the recognition that success . . . depends upon the health of the society in which it operates.” Gupta identified healthcare access, environmental protection, financial regulatory reform, and issues concerning rapid urbanization in emerging economies as major challenges that could benefit from public/private partnerships.

Ferguson focused his comments on the role business should play in the economic recovery and spoke of the need for a “new social contract” to repair the strained relationship between corporations and the public. He suggested a number of steps, including creating new tools and incentives to help individuals save for retirement; improving corporate governance and risk management programs to better align business strategy with the long-term interests of shareholders; and financial services firms taking the lead in promoting public financial literacy. Ferguson states that, “by seizing these opportunities, we will strengthen our economy [and] will create a more vibrant and financially sound society.”

To view the speakers’ comments in their entirety, please visit the American Academy website at


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