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Business with a conscience: Canberra ‘un-conference’ to inspire leaders to take social action

By Amy Birchall - 2 February 2017 0

zoe routh

There’s no denying Canberra business owners are a generous lot. Last year, Master Builders ACT raised $3.025 million through the sale of two properties in Deakin, with $2.2 million distributed to three local charities supporting people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Lennock Volkswagen has raised over $4 million for charity in the last eight years. The Phillip-based business supports organisations including the Starlight Children’s Foundation, the Canberra Hospital Foundation, the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Helicopter, and Menslink.

It is stories like these that spurred Inner Compass Leadership Development founder and director Zoe Routh (pictured) to organise Canberra’s first Edge of Leadership Un-Conference, to be held at the Hyatt Hotel on 28 March 2017.

“One of the untold stories in Canberra is the number of businesses that have philanthropic initiatives. I wanted to be able to share those stories, and invite other businesses to think about their social contributions,” Ms Routh says.

The un-conference is billed as Canberra’s dedicated leadership event for game changers. It’s aimed at senior business leaders – especially those in the private and not-for-profit sectors.

The event will feature a keynote presentation from Fortune 500 company consultant Dr Jason Fox, case studies of successful local social agendas in action, and a matchmaking service to facilitate attendee introductions.

Attendees will also participate in roundtable discussions led by socially minded Canberra business leaders. Table hosts include Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson, Economic Futures Australia principal Peter Gordon, and Lennock Volkswagen dealer principal Peter Munday.

Ms Routh says businesses like these don’t just introduce social initiatives to feel warm and fuzzy. There are compelling business benefits too.

“Mainstream businesses that pay attention to social agenda have a competitive edge. Look at the rise of social enterprise – astute consumers will choose businesses with social agendas, because it fits with the growing ethos of being a conscious consumer.

“The rise of the conscious consumer and conscious capitalism go hand in hand. Businesses that don’t have a social edge are likely to be left behind,” she says.

In addition to focusing on social agendas, Ms Routh says the Edge of Leadership un-conference will bridge the gap between learning and action. Attendees will be active participants rather than passive observers.

“I’ve been to so many events where there are so many speakers that you don’t have the opportunity to reflect and apply [what you’ve learned]. You get your head fire-hosed and you leave.

“In the desire to provide value, these events are often packed too full of content. They don’t build in time for reflection and connection.”

She hopes that by building in time for processing, reflection and applying knowledge, attendees will:

  • Develop meaningful connections with other Canberra business leaders
  • Strengthen their leadership thinking in the face of volatility and change
  • Walk away with a deeper understanding of the social contributions they want to make in their businesses.

Attendees that register by mid-February will be invited to an exclusive webinar on the business trends that will shape 2017. For more information about the event, or to register, visit the Edge of Leadership website.

All profits from the event will be donated to Menslink and Outward Bound.

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