Responsible business world loses two visionariesDecember 2008
Two US pioneers of responsible business – Joan Bavaria and Ed Burke – have died.
Bavaria, who died aged 65 after a long battle with cancer, was the co-founder of US-based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres), an influential body of pressure groups, socially responsible investors and companies that campaigns for responsible business practice.
She began her career in 1969 as an investment officer at the Bank of Boston, where she took an interest in how investors could influence companies’ behaviour.
This led her in 1981 to co-found the US Social Investment Forum, which specializes in SRI research and advice. A year later she established Trillium Asset Management, credited as being the first US investment management consultancy dedicated to developing social research on public companies.
After founding Ceres in 1989 she served as its tough and pragmatic co-chair for 19 years until her death – overseeing the formation of, among other things, the highly successful Global Reporting Initiative, a Ceres brainchild providing sustainability reporting guidelines. ‘Joan was a woman of powerful vision, courage and compassion,’ said Bob Massie, who was executive director at Ceres for seven years.
Ed Burke, founder of the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, who died aged 80 as a result of complications from pneumonia, was described as ‘a visionary and a pioneer’ by Bradley Googins, who succeeded him as executive director in 1997 and remains in the post.
Burke, a native of Boston, was a social worker by trade, and joined the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work in 1965, serving as dean from 1970 to 1976. President Jimmy Carter engaged him as chairman of the first White House conference on strategic planning in 1977 and then as a member of the White House domestic policy staff.
As he became increasingly interested in how corporations can work with local communities, Burke returned to Boston College, setting up the Center for Corporate Community Relations – as it was then known – in 1985 and serving as executive director until his retirement in 1997.
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