In his keynote address at Northeastern’s second annual Global Lead­er­ship Summit on Tuesday, Lord Michael Hast­ings of KPMG Inter­na­tional stressed the need for global cor­po­ra­tions to foster pos­i­tive social change.

Multi­na­tional firms like Bar­clays, UBS, and Unilever have “used their power to develop solu­tions to prob­lems people care about,” added Hast­ings, the global head of cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship for KPMG, one of the world’s leading providers of audit, tax, and advi­sory services.

Spon­sored by the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, the two-​​day summit con­vened more than 100 aca­d­e­mics, busi­ness exec­u­tives, and con­sul­tants from five con­ti­nents to dis­cuss the ins and outs of respon­sible global leadership.

The summit fea­tured panel dis­cus­sions and solo pre­sen­ta­tions by dozens of thought leaders on topics ranging from building an eth­ical cor­po­rate cul­ture to debating the moti­va­tions behind cor­po­rate social respon­si­bility. Experts included a pro­fessor of strategy from the Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nology in Sydney, Aus­tralia; the director of busi­ness ethics and com­pli­ance at Raytheon Com­pany; and a fellow of the Global Net­work on Cor­po­rate Citizenship.

In his wel­coming remarks, Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, under­scored Northeastern’s role in strength­ening the quality of global lead­er­ship. For example, he pointed to the busi­ness school’s Global Lead­er­ship Ini­tia­tive, the core goal of which is to iden­tify, sup­port, and dis­sem­i­nate knowl­edge and research in the field.

The summit epit­o­mizes what a North­eastern edu­ca­tion in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness is all about,” Courtney said. “There is a need for better research, teaching, and prac­tice in the global lead­er­ship field,” he added, noting the university’s focus on pur­suing use-​​inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research. “How better to tackle this problem than by bringing people together from acad­emia, busi­ness, and consulting?”

In his keynote address, Hast­ings noted the impor­tance of con­vening civil society, gov­ern­ments, and the pri­vate sector to first iden­tify wide­spread social prob­lems and then develop “effec­tive solu­tions to deliver long-​​term change.”

He indi­cated that part of the cor­po­rate push to solve global prob­lems stems from the pri­vate sector’s need to regain the public’s trust. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barom­eter, only 18 per­cent of some 31,000 online survey respon­dents from 26 mar­kets around the world trust busi­ness leaders to tell the truth.

Hast­ings, who ref­er­enced the trust barom­eter throughout his speech, explained that the rapid rise of income inequality between the rich and the poor has led to the public’s dis­trust of busi­nesses and finan­cial ser­vices. “Income dis­parity is a serious and com­plex problem that needs to be tackled,” said Hast­ings, adding that the wealth accu­mu­lated by the world’s top 100 bil­lion­aires in 2012 would be enough to end world poverty four times over.