Multinational business and government leaders discuss the generation of social value

Brian Lenihan (Executive Director, SelectUSA, U.S. Department of Commerce), Missy Owens (Director Government Relations, Federal & Diplomatic, The Coca-Cola Company), Melike Yetken (Senior Advisor for Corporate Responsibility, U.S. Department of State), Erin McGrain (Vice President and Head of Washington, DC Office, SK), Ambassador Stuart Holliday (President and CEO, Meridian International Center). Photo: Kaveh Sardari

In 2020, international business will look for new ways to strengthen not only their economic value, but also their social impact as they aim to reach goals such as water neutrality, increasing the number of women in business, and creating a world without waste. While many of the issues that these goals aim to address are widespread, they often require local solutions and a keen cross-cultural understanding of communities throughout the world.

Meridian brought together U.S. government leaders and executives from multinational corporations to discuss how they maximize the social value they provide to the communities where they invest. Panelists included: Brian Lenihan (Executive Director, SelectUSA, U.S. Department of Commerce), Erin McGrain (Vice President and Head of Washington, DC Office, SK), Missy Owens (Director Government Relations, Federal & Diplomatic, The Coca-Cola Company), and Melike Ann Yetken (Senior Advisor for Corporate Responsibility, U.S. Department of State).

McGrain highlighted SK’s 'Double Bottom Line' as the company’s initiative to generate social and economic value simultaneously. This new accounting methodology is being implemented across the SK Group, and it incorporates a host of indicators pertaining to the environment and social well-being. From the government side, Yetken underscored the State Department’s commitment to responsible business conduct and how the Department honors U.S. firms that upholds these standards in their global operations through the Secretary of State’s annual Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).

The panel stressed that financial and social contributions must both be considered, while maintaining cultural considerations which may vary from community to community. The program also addressed the emergence of commercial diplomacy and how more and more global business leaders are utilizing diplomatic skills to be successful. Multinational corporations, such a Coca-Cola, are increasingly requiring their employees to live and work in different locations, effectively functioning as citizen diplomats.

The program was co-hosted by the Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement and the SK Group. Held on Meridian’s campus, this was the third program in Meridian and SK’s foreign direct investment series under Meridian’s Diplocraft initiative.

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Project summary

Multinational business and government leaders discuss the generation of social value | December 2019
Number of Attendees: 46
Regions: 1, 1, 2, 2
Countries: 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2
Impact Areas: 2, 2, 3
Program Areas: 1
Partners: 4