Recently, the UN General Assembly hosted a high-level summit in New York to address the plight of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing societies together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. At the world leaders’ summit on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said, “the refugee crisis is one of the urgent tests of our time, a test of our common humanity.”
Stan Bergman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein, represented the business community at the UN Assembly gathering. Exemplifying the view of a Higher Ambition leader, Bergman made a compelling case for business to actively engage in solving the crisis. He said, “We have a moral obligation to act, and it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so because business cannot succeed in failed societies.”
Begrman described how public-private partnership can make a difference. Bergman said, “There is a critical contribution for the private sector to make if given the opportunity to be a true partner of governments, international governmental organizations, NGOs, and civil society. Realizing the full power of this collaborative model means engaging the private sector beyond traditional charitable donations, to harness the unique expertise and competencies businesses possess.” The business community can significantly increase its level of positive impact by leveraging its unique strengths and drawing on its combined expertise as part of the solution.
Bergman said, “Sympathy for the plight of refugees is simply not enough. Every sector of society shares the responsibility to do our part to address the root causes that fuel this crisis – including conflict and a failure to meet basic human needs – as well as the vulnerabilities refugees face as they flee. During times of displacement, emergency assistance to meet basic human needs is critical. While these needs are many, I would like to emphasize the fundamental importance of ensuring access to health care during this most vulnerable period. Health is, in many ways, the building block critical to meeting the other basic needs.”
Stan Bergman shared the example of how Henry Schein contributes by way of its health care supply chain expertise, with its extensive communications network, and close relationships with more than 1.5 million health care practitioners and more than 3,500 supplier partners around the world. The company is engaged in several public-private partnerships to enhance access to care for refugees during their journey to new homes. These include innovative partnerships with international NGO’s to the provision of medical and dental supplies to volunteer physicians and dentists offering refugees pro bono health care, as well as health and hygiene kits for refugees living in camps.
Bergman powerfully highlighted, that “The plight of refugees is the plight of us all. Each of us must have the courage to stand up and do our part. And we must do so in partnership with one another.” Henry Schein, a member company of the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, continues to raise the bar for how business can change the world for the better. When a company walks the talk of its purpose—it is important to take notice.