Marilyn Carlson Nelson is Chairman and former CEO of Carlson, one of the largest privately held companies in the world, with 170 thousand employees in 150 countries.
Her wise approach to doing business got a launch when her father fired her from the company. An old-school business magnate, he felt the demands of a management job his daughter had been suggested for were too big for a woman.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson instead dedicated herself to working on community projects, to the benefit of both her state and the USA. She became a leader of United Way in Minneapolis, a coalition of community services organizations with 1200 local offices around the nation.
United Way works to establish effective partnerships that serve community needs, identifying these and creating best solutions bringing together local resources. Her experience with community projects taught Ms. Nelson how to motivate volunteers to achieve more, by reaching for higher goals.
Her achievements in many organizations were so notable, and effective, that she was considered a strong candidate for governor of her state. At that point, her father realized how wrong he had been, and he made her CEO of Carlson.
Immediately, she began changing Carlson, bringing her insights gained from community work to bear on company policy. Her successes have been notable, and are due to her insisting that the company must engage with stakeholders in the communities where it is active, on both local and global issues. For a number of years, Carlson has been judged the best company for mothers to work in, Forbes has declared it one of the world’s top 100 companies to work for. Today, over forty percent of its executives are women, and the group has won international recognition and awards for its stance on business ethics and integrity.
Under her leadership, Carlson signed the international Code of Conduct to protect children from sexual exploitation in the travel industry, as the first travel and hospitality company in North America to do so.
Ms. Nelson discovered that through engaging productively with society, a business can grow stronger and wiser, creating shared value to the benefit of both. For her significant achievements, Marilyn Carlson Nelson is named a Business for Peace Honouree.