In a ceremony at Marlborough House in London today, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw will present the prestigious FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism to Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies, parent company of Radisson® Hotels and Resorts, Regent® International Hotels, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises®, T.G.I. Friday`s® restaurants, Carlson Wagonlit Travel®, and other travel and marketing-related businesses. Nelson becomes the second person to receive the award, initially presented in 2000 to Sir John Browne, (now Lord Browne of Madingley), Group Chief Executive of BP Amoco.
Given for global leadership “which has resulted in both commercial success and social responsibility,” the FIRST award saluted Nelson for her company`s exportation of successful, sustainable business opportunities; empowerment of entrepreneurs worldwide through successful models of restaurants, hotels and travel agency operations; and outstanding corporate social responsibility.
Foreign Secretary Straw saluted Nelson for her ongoing global corporate leadership, and specifically noted her leadership role in international travel and tourism since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Since the attacks, Nelson has campaigned tirelessly to increase awareness of her industry and the effect the attacks have had on it. She has been a leader in the effort to spur U.S. government action to protect jobs and businesses in the travel and tourism sector - especially with regards to smaller businesses, most of which are not directly affiliated with her company. Her leadership has helped secure expanded small business loans and unemployment benefits for those affected by the devastating slowdown in travel caused by the attacks.
Under Nelson`s leadership, Carlson Companies has joined with organizations around the world to create and sustain jobs for 190,000 people in more than140 countries. The company currently operates 225 hotels, 170 restaurants, and more than 1,250 travel and marketing company offices in countries other than the U.S.
Nelson`s company has also continued a long tradition of giving five percent of pre-tax profits to community causes. It plays a leadership role in communities worldwide, and actively encourages and facilitates volunteerism by its employees. It has helped provide for the education of future generations by helping to endow a business school, now named for founder Curtis L. Carlson, at the University of Minnesota. The school now offers MBA programs in Germany, Poland and China.
In accepting the award, Nelson pointed out the need for continuing vigilance to keep businesses involved with the communities they serve.
“As global companies become citizens of everywhere, each must be on guard that they don`t become `citizens of nowhere,` feeling that no allegiance or connection can be afforded with local communities because the company is in so many communities,” she said.
Judges for the honor included The Hon. Raymond Seitz, former American Ambassador in London and Vice Chairman of Lehman Brothers; Lord Browne of Madingley, Group Chief Executive of BP Amoco; Lord Plant of Highfield, leading academic and labour life peer; Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary General; Rt. Hon. Lord Howe of Aberavon, former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary; Sir Patrick Cormack FSA MP, International President of FIRST; and Lord Dahrendorf, a leading U.K. economist and Chairman of the judging panel.
About the Award
FIRST has initiated the FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism to honor business leaders who have excelled in both commercial success and social responsibility. The magazine believes that commercial success can be assessed in terms of standard criteria, but social responsibility may involve a greater sense of the needs of stakeholders, special interest in the well-being of groups in need, care for the communities in which the business operates, environmental initiatives, and support for the arts and culture.
About FIRST Magazine
The recipient of a PPA Award for publishing excellence, FIRST Magazine was established in 1986 to enhance communication between leaders in industry, finance and government at the strategic level. FIRST has an international subscription base of industrial, financial, corporate and government leaders, and contributors have included British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, President Jiang Zemin of China, President Jacques Chirac of France, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson, OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez-Araque and leading business figures, including Lord Browne of Madingley of BP Amoco, Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard, Bill Gates of Microsoft and John Chambers of Cisco Systems.