Diversity at SVN Conference a ‘Turning Point’

Diversity at SVN Conference a ‘Turning Point’

Responsible business dialogue reaches across philosophical barriers, says Josh Knauer

The recent Social Venture Network (SVN) conference that convened 400 innovative impact entrepreneurs was a “turning point” because of the “excellent representation” of people from a variety of backgrounds, says event chair Josh Knauer.

One of the conference goals is to expand the definition of what it means to be a responsible business, which has been talked about in terms of diversity, says Josh.

Diversity means different things to different people, and Josh says SVN is “trailblazing” when it comes to racial and ethnic diversity, involving men and women, and ensuring there are representative balances of people from a variety of communities that may be under-represented at business conferences.

The conference had a variety of attendees from for- and non-profit businesses of different sizes. Attendee backgrounds included military, federal government, and several different political party members

“We really are getting to a really good blend but the real challenge is to stretch this definition of what is a responsible business beyond the traditional lefty-liberal definitions,” Josh tells Axiom News.

He adds finding common ground around responsible business practices with people from different philosophical perspectives is part of the challenge.

“I think we started to break really good ground on starting this dialogue and reaching across the philosophical barriers that sometimes separate people on the political side of things,” he says.

Called Movers, Shakers and Changemakers, the Oct. 27-30 conference featured a variety of workshops and keynote speakers exploring responsible business.

Josh points to the opening plenary which discussed redefining the concept of national security in the context of responsible business, and that helping those less fortunate raises everyone’s economic situation.

Workshops and speakers explored the mechanics of responsible business from different perspectives, including deal structure, human resources and marketing.

Connections between people who have been in the field for 25 years and those who are new are formed on a deep and personal level because of shared values and goals around conducting business in a better way, says Josh.

“The depth of discussion that happens and the depth of really amazing learning opportunities and sharing opportunities that exist at SVN are unlike any other conference that exists,” he says.

Josh has been a social entrepreneur for more than 20 years and is CEO of Rhiza Labs, a business intelligence mapping analytic software company in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a SVN board member and has been a SVN member since 1999.

“SVN is incredibly valuable to me as an entrepreneur and to the community as a whole in that it is a network of people who are actually doing the work of finding new ways of conducting business that help create a better world,” says Josh.

He says SVN members are his mentors and have helped his business in different ways.

“SVN is the community that I go to for that level of support and the conferences are a physical manifestation of that in that we get together twice a year to do that but the network works 365 days a year for us which is fantastic,” he says.

To learn more about SVN, visit http://svn.org.

If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

— More to Come

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Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer: jennifer@axiomnews.ca, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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