Dr. Dambisa Moyo Examines Role of Corporations in the 21st Century in UVU Presidential Lecture Series

Rock-star economist and four-time New York Times best-selling author Dr. Dambisa Moyo addressed the campus community during the biannual UVU Presidential Lecture Series on Oct. 1.


Rock star economist and four-time New York Times best-selling author Dr. Dambisa Moyo addressed the campus community during the biannual UVU Presidential Lecture Series on Friday, Oct. 1. Moyo, who serves on the boards of the Chevron Corporation, Condé Nast, and the 3M Company, discussed the role of the corporation in the 21st century before a live audience at the Clarke Building auditorium.

Moyo is a preeminent thinker in the fields of macroeconomics and global affairs and has been named by Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Before an audience comprised mainly of economics and business students and faculty, Moyo addressed the reasons why one should care about the roles corporations play in modern life and why it is so difficult to pinpoint the roles they ought to play.

“The global economy and the world in general continue to face enormous economic geopolitical social and cultural headwinds. Many of them are enormous, and they require all hands on deck. They require government, civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and they do certainly require corporations,” she said.

For Moyo, addressing monumental issues of the world like stagnant economic growth, acute income inequality, and rapid climate change requires that everyone pitch in, including corporations. Following a succinct and albeit depressing enumeration of facts and data demonstrating the severity of the established issues, Moyo offered hope.

“This is not to just give you a list of trauma and drama. This is really to say, we are not going to be able to address these issues without having corporations at the table. It can't just be up to the government and nongovernmental organizations. Also, not just be up to corporations, we all have to get together to help solve this,” she said.

Moyo went on to examine why the role of corporations is such a complicated question in the first place. She has observed that society has somewhat altered the priorities of corporations over the years.

“Historically, corporations have had the role of essentially providing allocation of capital and labor to continue to grow into the future. But more and more, society has demanded that corporations do more. We think that they should opine on policy things that used to be really just the purview of politics. We think they should always offer an explanation on climate, but also on abortion rights in Texas, voter rights, and issues such as obesity. We think corporations should actually say something about any forms of trauma that our society deals with, even if they're outside financial decisions.”

Moyo concluded her comments by addressing what she believes to be the role of corporations and how they can do better. Moyo offered that true inclusivity will help bring corporations to the forefront of addressing world issues.

“We are in a world where there's a lot of pressure to be aware of and concerned about people at any cost. We feel like we need to show that we're much more diverse, and that we care about having many more people from different backgrounds in our organizations. The idea of having diversity — whether it's gender, racial, or just geographical — and indeed even diversity of ideas, shouldn't be controversial. But it is incumbent on us to not pursue these types of agendas without there being some sense of a narrative that we want to be inclusive. Put another way, we should not fight discrimination with discrimination.”

Dr. Bob Palais of UVU Mathematics agreed that Moyo’s address was especially timely in today’s climate.

“The shift of corporate interest to corporate responsibility is essential for the survival of the planet and the economy. Dr. Moyo made a very good case that included evidence from recent situations. It’s helpful to learn that corporations are now recognizing that, for more long-term profits, and even short term, they need to meet the needs of the customers, not just the investors,” he said. “I enjoyed her coverage of climate change issues and her thoughts on diversity as not a sacrifice, but as an addition of value.”

Zach Slater, a junior studying biology, enjoyed hearing Moyo’s perspective on world events, especially climate change.

“It was great to hear that Dr. Moyo is optimistic for the future," he said. "She's optimistic working with these big companies to see that they are making conscientious decisions about the environment. I can feel a little better knowing that big decisions that would affect the environment aren't being made by these rich guys who are only thinking about their personal interest but that they also have a board behind them that helps them make these important decisions, so that impressed me.”

The lecture concluded with an audience Q&A followed a luncheon held in the Bingham Gallery with Dr. Moyo and President Astrid S. Tuminez.

For more information about the biannual Presidential Lecture Series, please visit the events page of the Office of the President.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo

Dr. Dambisa Moyo interacts with attendees

Dr. Dambisa Moyo and UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez

Dr. Dambisa Moyo