Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Net Impact: #1 Worldwide

A student club focuses on social and economic equity

Out of three hundred chapters worldwide, Net Impact was honoured as the International Chapter of the Year. Find out what inspires Rotman students to take part in this exciting initiative.

The Net Impact chapter was honoured with the International Chapter of the Year Award, out of three hundred chapters worldwide. The award, based on a combination of a public vote and a judging panel, honoured the club’s impact and growth during the most recent school year.

Club member Mark Kochanski was drawn to the group through his interest in seeing that the benefits of global trade and economic growth are distributed more equally. While such growth can improve living standards in developing countries, there tends to be a highly unequal distribution of income and resources. A small minority have profited immensely while the majority of people remain poor.

“The club strives for positive social and environmental changes by empowering MBA students to use their skills to improve the world.”

-Mark Kochanski, member of the winning Net Impact team

What’s needed, Mark believes, is through greater protections for the working poor, to ensure that reasonable wages are being paid, and that basic health and safety regulations are implemented. He adds, “Recent initiatives to reduce the widening gap between executive compensation and worker salaries are definitely a step in the right direction.”

As for the developed world, Jason Visscher, president of the club, is doubtful about claims that living standards are improving through economic growth and global trade. The evidence shows that real minimum wage and average savings have gone down, while poverty has gone up since the onset of globalization. “Free markets work best when every member of society is provided with equality of opportunity, so that each person’s outcome is their own responsibility, and not a function of race or economic class,” he states.

Under Jason’s leadership, the Rotman chapter of Net Impact launched the Rotman sustainability initiative, which culminated in the School adding a sustainability major to the Full-Time, Morning and Evening MBA programs. The chapter grew its membership, its leadership team and its event schedule, including a dinner and panel event to promote the sustainability curriculum at the School.  The Rotman chapter also launched new collaborations with the Net Impact chapters at Ryerson University and York University and hosted a national Corporate Social Responsibility Case Competition.

Last December the chapter hosted the inaugural quarterfinal event for the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for budding social entrepreneurs. Team Attollo, composed of Rotman MBA students and alumni, won the quarterfinal and presented as one of six teams in the finals in New York. Three other Rotman MBA teams reached the regional semi-finals in the competition.

Read the full interview with Mark and Jason on the Business Because website.

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