Harvard Law Talk Stresses Corporate Responsibility

Adam D. Sidman

Dr. Allen White spoke yesterday at Harvard Law School on "Sacred Cows and Conventional Wisdoms: Redesigning Corporate Governance for the 21st Century."

A lecture by a corporate structure specialist at Harvard Law School yesterday featured free burritos and some unconventional thought on the civic responsibilities of corporations.

“My purpose is to bring a fresh perspective to law students, to put in front of them a vision of corporations and corporate law that perhaps they hadn’t had before,” said Allen White, who serves as vice president of the Tellus Institute, a research and policy organization focusing on sustainable development.

During the lecture, White said that corporate boards are often not held accountable for the consequences of their work, specifically in regards to sustainability. He linked the way corporations are run, which directly affects their carbon footprints, with the issue.

“Every company should publish an annual sustainability report according to an accepted framework,” he said. “We need to hold boards responsible [for] sustainability. This is given lip service a lot.”

White’s speech was part of a series of lectures organized by the Harvard Association of Law and Business. According to Michael R. Rozensher, a second-year student at HLS who organized the event, the goal of the series is to spread awareness of corporate responsibility.


White was selected to speak because of his three decade-long background advising both non-governmental organizations and corporations, Rozensher added.

“A lot of what I’m saying is out of the mainstream which I recognize,” White said. “That’s one of my goals—to be a little bit out of the mainstream and to challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom underlying the purpose of corporations and the legal standing of corporations.”


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