About Doug Cahn
Originally from Washington State, Doug Cahn grew up in the small town of Richland on the banks of the Columbia River.
Cahn attended Colorado College, graduating with a degree in Anthropology before receiving a graduate degree at Harvard University for his study of Middle East cultures and history.
Following his formal studies, Cahn moved to Washington, D.C., where he became an aide on Capitol Hill. He established himself early in his career as someone who could speak passionately about the value of protecting human rights, yet with sensitivity to different approaches about how best to accomplish this goal.
For 10 of his 13 years on the Hill, he served as chief of staff for the colorful and often controversial Congressman Barney Frank. “Those experiences – from looking at different sides of an issue to communicating with diverse stakeholders to managing a staff – were invaluable at that time in my career and prepared me for what would come next,” Cahn says.
Ironically, the innate sense of how to balance a wide range of complex and sometimes controversial situations led Cahn into business. He was first hired to run the Reebok Human Rights Award program, honoring young human rights defenders for their courage and accomplishments.
He then became a pioneer in the development of standards for the treatment of factory workers at the Reebok company, anticipating an issue that later took on significance for all global companies.
Without the benefit of preexisting corporate standards, compliance benchmarks, assessment tools or capacity building initiatives, he designed and implemented the first human rights protection program within a footwear company.
After Reebok was purchased by the adidas Group in 2006, Cahn took his expertise and experience and established The Cahn Group.
Most recently, Cahn co-founded Better Buying, an online platform for suppliers to rate buyers on their purchasing practices.
“Leadership is about bringing out the best in others,” says Cahn. “Being a good listener, understanding complex problems and crafting workable solutions for clients that are consistent with internationally recognized norms are what I strive for.”
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