10 Resources from the Global Compact Around the Sustainable Development Goals

There are a growing number of resources and tools to help businesses engage in working towards, as well as reporting on, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are resources that can be used in a classroom setting, as a tool for students or faculty working with business , or as tools to develop new partnerships and research opportunities with business around the SDGS. Here are 10 resources put together by the Global Compact focused on business and the SDGs in 2018.

SDG Bonds & Corporate Finance: A Roadmap to Mainstream Investments: This report seeks to inspire and guide companies, Governments, cities and others involved in the implementation of Agenda 2030 to tap into the private capital markets and benefit from cheaper and more reliable capital to support the implementation of their SDG strategies. Introduces a roadmap for mainstream SDG bonds and corporate SDG finance to tap into the largest assets classes and respond to the specific financing challenges in emerging markets. It calls on institutional investors to increase their allocation of capital towards the SDGs, and to drive the demand for a diverse set of SDG investments ranging from sovereign bonds to corporate bonds and equity.

 

Human Rights: The Foundation of Sustainable Business:This report celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and builds upon the UN Global Compact Progress Report. The report highlights insight and initiatives by Global Compact Local Networks around the world, presents snapshots of good practice from companies participating in the UN Global Compact and showcases initiatives that are advancing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

 

Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide:This Guide outlines a three-step process to embed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into existing business and reporting processes. It helps business to better report their impact on the SDGs and address the information needs of relevant stakeholders. This Guide follows an approach that is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the GRI Standards.

 

 

In Focus: Addressing Investor Needs in Business Reporting on the SDGs: This report features recommendations on how corporate reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can best address investors’ information needs. By helping inform investors’ decision-making process, corporate SDG reporting can stimulate more investment in sustainable business solutions to help advance the Global Goals.

 

 

Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business: In 2018 the Global Compact launched a new Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business with the aim of developing a Framework for Leadership for the Global Goals and the Ocean, facilitate the development of a business leadership framework on oceans, seas and marine resources and inspire partnerships and local action.

 

Women’s Empowerment Principles Global Trends Report 2018: This report examines the aggregate results of companies using the Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool (WEPs Tool) with an aim to provide insights on global corporate performance on gender equality and women’s empowerment aligned with the WEPs, demonstrate the value of using the WEPs Tool, and showcase the efforts of partners and other stakeholders to drive gender equality around the world.

 

The Ambition Loop — How Business and Government Can Advance Policies that Fast Track Zero-Carbon Economic Growth: This report provides guidance for business and Government to fast track zero-carbon economic growth. With hundreds of businesses pursuing bold climate change solutions and countries updating national climate plans in advance of 2020, the opportunity for greater ambition abounds. More and more businesses are seeing opportunity in the zero-carbon economy and taking action on climate change. Governments must use this as a strong vote of confidence and advance ambitious policies that provide companies with the clarity and confidence they need to unlock further investments in climate solutions. This is the “ambition loop” — a positive feedback loop in which bold Government policies and private sector leadership reinforce each other, and together, take climate action to the next level.

 

Building Peace and Prosperity: What Business Can Do: This guide provides a list of concrete actions that different stakeholder groups — including business, the investor community, Governments, the UN and civil society — can take to scale up business action and investment in high-risk areas. It also provides an overview of eight multi-stakeholder initiatives that support stakeholders in scaling up these actions.

 

Decent Work in Global Supply Chains — A Baseline Report: This report summarizes data of bilateral interviews with supply chain, procurement, and sustainability executives of companies that participate in the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains. The report presents insights into some of the key challenges and opportunities that companies face in their efforts to develop more sustainable procurement strategies. It also offers practical examples of steps taken to combat pressing human rights issues in supply chains, such as modern slavery, child labour and non-compliance with employment standards, and references relevant initiatives and resources for further guidance on these issues.

 

Business: It’s Time to Act – Decent Work, Modern Slavery & Child Labour: Decent Work cannot exist where modern slavery and child labour persist. Forced labour, modern slavery and child labour are complex problems associated with poverty, governance failures and inequalities in the global labour market. Tackling them requires a massive international effort, involving Governments, businesses, civil society organizations, trade unions and international bodies. This brief guide, developed as part of the Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform, offers a quick overview of the steps businesses can take to help eliminate modern slavery, while highlighting key resources, initiatives and engagement opportunities to support business action.

For more Global Compact resources click here.

Student Thoughts on Responsible Management Education

In early November the PRME community gathered in Cologne, Germany for the 5th PRME Research Conference. The goal of this conference, focused on Leadership Development for Advancing the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, was to discuss how research and the management education community, in collaboration with other stakeholders, could best support the initiatives of the UN Global Compact and PRME that focus on responsible leadership development in order to advance the SDGs. For more information on this event visit https://www.international-csr.org.

As part of the conference, students (or student teams) were invited to produce a two-minute video in which they present their views and ideas on “Responsible Management Education”. The videos explored what students felt their university should do, or what it is already doing, to embed responsible management education in courses, programmes and extracurricular activities. The video competition was organised by six partner organisations from the PRME Chapter DACH (Management Center Innsbruck, Cologne Business School, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Chur, FHWien der WKW and ZHAW School of Management and Law) with the aim of including authentic student voices from around the world.

 

There were 26 video submissions from 80 participants in 9 countries and 4 continents. The winning team from Brazil, Fundacao Institute de Administracao as well the runner-up teams from Deakin University in Australia, the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Management Center Innsbruck,were also invited to attend the event.

I spoke with Regina Obexer from Management Centre Innsbruck who initiated and led the project.

Why did you decide to ask students that particular question?

The conference was about responsible management education, and many of the sessions were about the “what” and the “how” of educating students for responsible management. We wanted to complement the academic and experts’ point of view with an authentic perspective from the students’ own experience. We wanted them to express why they think responsible management is important, but also how it could best be done in higher education. What we were hoping to get was a variety of (and maybe some innovative) ideas on teaching and learning strategies students think are effective for responsible management education. As our deadline was very tight (the contest closed only 3 weeks before the conference) we were not able to present a thorough analysis of the 26 videos at the conference, but we are planning a publication in 2019.

Were you surprised by the results?

We were mainly surprised by the international response we had. Having students from four continents submit videos was a real thrill, and resulted in a varied mix of submissions. The diversity of the videos both in terms of format and in terms of content was maybe not surprising but satisfying. Many videos have a very unique approach, and show both the creativity and deep understanding of the importance of this topic. Several videos emphasised the importance of collaboration in tackling the global challenges ahead. It was really difficult to decide on the winners and runners-up, and thankfully we had a great team of jurors and a set of clear evaluation criteria that helped us make this decision.

Were the videos shown during the event and what response was there to them?

We only had a short time slot during the conference, but we did show the winning team’s video and also the first runner-up who was not able to attend during the closing plenary session of the conference. The entire winning team flew in from Brazil, one representative of the second Brazilian team attended and we had a live-stream to the rest in Sao Paolo, and the Austrian runner-up team attended the event as well. We are now in the process of also doing a number of press releases via the conference channels and individual institutions so the students see that their voices (and videos) are being heard, disseminated, and are having an impact.

The greatest highlight of the conference for me personally was meeting our student winners and runners-up. They were all so excited to be at a conference, with some of them having come a very long way, and they fully joined in with conference session and workshops. We were thrilled to be able to facilitate their attendance through the conference, with their home institutions paying for travel and the conference coordinator covering accommodation.

Below is the winning video. To view the runner ups click here.

Eduardo Goldstein, Felipe Riyoji Benatti, Tatiana Lapidus & Thiago Amorim Gomes Oliveira

Fundacao Institut de Administracao

Brazil

Examples of Inclusiveness in Business School – Special series on (Dis)ability

CSR and Intellectual Disability event at MDI, India

Over the past week we have focused in on the topic of Disability. Very few schools report in the Sharing Information on Progress about their programmes and opportunities relating to persons with disabilities. This isn’t to say that Signatories are not actively engaged in this topic. Below are some examples of from schools around the world.

Collaboration with Business

The University of St. Gallen’s Centre for Disability and Integration (Swizerland) is an interdisciplinary research centre that contributes to the inclusion of people with disabilities through innovative research, teaching and practice projects. One project included working on a 3 year cooperation with a Swiss social insurance company looking at factors that influence the job retention of employees with psychological disorders, a strongly growing group in Switzerland including a range of recommendations for employers and managers.

Specialised programmes

Starting from January 2018, students at KEDGE Business School (France) have the opportunity to take the Kapable Management Certificate, a course dedicated to disability management. Despite being a high-stake topic for businesses, disability management is currently not widely taught. This certificate combines theoretical and practical knowledge with a 30h remote training course (in English), the development of a benchmarking study on disability in business, and the production of a report to present facts and findings. The certificate is recognised by various institutions and partner corporations (Volkswagen Group France, BPI France, Cdiscount, Société Générale).

Cornell University’s Institute on Employment and Disability (USA) advance knowledge, policies and practices to enhance equal opportunities for all people with disabilities. In 2017, 320 students were enrolled in the Disability Studies programme that looks to raise awareness and interest about disability issues among Cornell students. There is also a new curriculum on Disability and Intersectionality launched in 2017 that focuses on understanding of how identities such as disability, race, ethnicity, gender among others multiply, overlap and connect. Cornell has also been working on a Global Comparative Disability Legislative Database in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation as well as launching disabilitystatistics.org, an interactive webpage tool where users can access a wide rage of disability statistics.

Engaging with Stakeholders

Auckland University of Technology Business School (New Zealand) as been working in partnership with Global Women, a not for profit champion for diversity in business and leadership that includes 50 New Zealand CEOs and Board Chairs from across the public and private sector. Their work on the Case for Change is based on research conducted by faculty at the university and sets out the social and economic benefits to be gained from ensuring a diverse and inclusive workshop including disability policies.

Awareness Raising

The Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) has established its first Accessible Education Officer for disability services and learning supports, OSB faculty and staff proposed guidelines for accessibility and accommodation at the School needed due to disability, mental health conditions, or other health impairments. In order to ensure the success of this initiative, faculty, staff and graduate assistants will undergo a specific training on accessibility and accommodation.

Last year the Management Development Institute (India) organized a Sign Language Workshop for students in order to sensitize the budding managers to the ways in which they can communicate with differently able people when they start working in their respective organisations. The school has also worked with the Resource Center for the Visually Challenged event where students were involved in a number of experiential learning tasts in which participants were asked to work blind folded. This helped them understand the challenges faced in day to day life by the visually challenged person.

At Bentley University (USA), the University’s policy that no qualified student be excluded from participating in any university program or activity, be denied the benefits of any university program or activity, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination with regard to any university program or activity. The school organises a range of awareness raising activities including an annual Disability Awarness Day and a (dis)Ability Awareness Workshops, which are offered jointly with the Office for Disability Services. This workshop stimulates discussion of issues relating to both “visible” and “invisible” disabilities facing members of the Bentley community.

Providing support

The University of Technology Sydney (Australia) conducted a workshop and walking tour challenging participants to look for features within the local area that contribute to inclusive access while also searching for areas of improvements. This was in part undertaken because although inclusions for people with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities are well understood by the general public, others like those with, for example, autistic spectrum disorders are less so. Tactility and shaded quieter spaces are considerations that plan an important role.

The school also conducted research looking at promoting entrepreneurship opportunities and resources for people with a disability. Researchers there found that people with a disability have a rate of entrepreneurship 50 per cent higher than the Australian average yet we know so little about their story including the barriers they face, how to overcome these barriers as well as the social and economic contributions they make. The project partners with a range of organizations focused on disability including the National Disability Services.

Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) offers French Sign Language since 2009 and supports Sensihandicap, a group of student ambassadors who organize events related to issues faced by those with disabilities. They also provide a programme for employees who incurr disabilities during their working lives with professional reoriginetation and guidance to help them adjust as well as a Management & Disabilities Certificate to train managers to integrate employees with disabilities into the workplace.

IESE offers a scholarship in collaboration with Foundation ONCE Scholarship, a foundation that focuses on providing employment opportunities for professionals with disabilities. The scholarship aims to promote the integration and ongoing development of the disabled within the business community.

Physical Inclusivity at IBS-Moscow – Special series on (Dis)ability

This week, to raise awareness around the International Day of Person’s with Disabilities which took place on December 3rd, we are highlighting the topic through a series of posts. This is a challenge and opportunity that Universities, and PRME Signatories take very seriously. In the case of IBS-Moscow, this is being driven in part by MOST, a student club targeted at creating friendly environment and accessible facilities in the sphere of higher education for people with restricted mobility. MOST organized educational, entertaining and sports events engaging thousands of students and encouraging them to interact freely with successful, interesting and inspiring people with disabilities.

The initiative came about as a professor-student initiative to spread the best practices, which IBS-Moscow had in organizing inclusive education and extra-curriculum activities for their first students with restricted mobility in order to change the traditional mindset with regard to inclusive education among Russian youth. I spoke with Danil Muravskii, Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Management about this programme.

Why is it important for universities to be wheelchair accessible?

In Russia, it is hard for people on wheelchairs to integrate into society: because there is no interaction between them and the rest of society during childhood and the student years, they feel awkward in the company of each other later in life. As a result, people on wheelchairs are afraid to attend daytime educational programmes, choosing instead specialized universities and remote courses, which loose in education quality in comparison to the TOP universities. This leads to the problem of Russian companies, which encourage people with disabilities to apply for jobs, but are not able to find qualified and willing candidates.

People with restricted mobility need to be inspired to attend daytime education programmes in the best universities and later to apply for daytime full jobs in the top companies. At the same time the general society needs to get used to people on wheelchairs, and not think of interaction with them as charity or social responsibility. I believe that targeting the student community by creating integrative events, where they would interact with people on wheelchairs in an informal environment will foster the process of solving that problem.

What did the club do on campus? 

MOST organized events, where students could organically interact with successful and interesting people, who just happen to be on wheelchairs. We «imbedded wheelchairs» into student life: beauty queens, politicians and world champions in sports were invited by us to host educational, entertainment and sportive events.

Our principle is never to focus on the fact that the student participants, the guest speaker or the sports team they are about to see will be moving on wheelchairs. These are not social responsibility events, but are just fun events. The other innovative approach is the fully integrative nature of the events.

Do you have a specific example?

I have one favorite project of which I am very proud – it’s the hard metal themed “Murderball tournament” (wheelchair rugby tournament) dedicated to the national holiday of men and country defenders in Russia. We had world champions in wheelchair rugby playing against ordinary RANEPA students. Volunteers from the crowd tried on special sports wheelchairs for the first time in their life and played against professionals. They mercilessly lost, off course – but the clashing of metal wheelchairs and the overall atmosphere was very intense and I would even say – magnificent. We made a very involving show, that helped showcase the beauty of the situation we all have found ourselves in.

What has been the impact of MOST on the school?

Firstly we can talk about the general development of the underestimated market of daytime education for people with restricted mobility. Under our efforts ramps and other infrastructure elements at the cost of $10k was installed by RANEPA. We increased the awareness among people with disabilities about the options for daytime education by printing out and handing informational brochures at rehabilitation centres across Moscow. MOST also organized a special section of the annual RANEPA open doors day aimed at increasing the number of people with disabilities applying to educational programmes. About 60 000 people learned about our events from social media (648+ reposts, 956 likes), press (3 TV reports from events) and posters by that increasing general awareness of the possibilities for people with disabilities to study in TOP universities.

Secondly, its involving youth in voluntary activities. The increase in volunteers was 30% after every conducted event. Each next event brought more participants and viewers.

Lastly its international recognition of the concept behind our events. The accomplishments of MOST were recognized by the Russian Governmental Agency of Strategic initiatives, which awarded us for “Best social impact”; MOST’s “Don’t be afraid of the wheelchair!” campaign also got the team to the semi-finales of the Social resolution project competition, which were held in Boston, US, at the Harvard National Model UN.

What have been some of the challenges? 

One of the major challenges was to change the way people think about people with limited mobility and their attitude towards events organized for them. Typical people perceive these sort of events as charity and come expecting to feel sad for the participants and return home with a proud feeling of making a contribution to society. But our events are always fun and sincerely joyful, they don’t involve money collection or talks about discrimination. And this sometimes made the viewers and guests uncomfortable – they didn’t know how to behave and what reaction is appropriate. The only way to fight this is to constantly interact with people with limited mobility in normal day-to-day contexts. The idea of MOST is to make the people forget about their differences from people with limited mobility rather than reminding of those differences.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

Try to make such events fun for everybody involved. If a student activity in the end of the day is not enjoyable, it won’t last. Avoid associations with charity: help assimilate the different groups of people rather than contribute to further anxiety between them.

What’s next for the initiative?

All of the founders have now moved to permanent jobs in various industries, such as banking, cosmetics, and others. Many of them, including me, managed to find new ways to contribute to this cause and expend their activities to other causes as well. We still actively engage in various MOST-style initiatives. And it is very pleasant to realize that although many of us are currently not in the walls of IBS-Moscow, we are constantly remembered and are being integrated again and again into the life of our school

 

 

Resources on Inclusiveness and the SDGs – Special series on (Dis)ability

To raise awareness about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, this week PRiMEtime is focused on the topic of inclusiveness. This post series of resources available on disability and sustainable development that explore the issues more broadly as well as specifically for the business sector. Note that all of these reports are available in multiple languages.

State of Affairs

At a Global level, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006, is the international human rights treaty of the United Nations (UN) intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development, launched this week for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, looks at the impact of the SDGs on disability. The World Report on Disability produced jointly by the World Health Organization and the World Bank provides global guidance on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities and gives and extensive picture of the situation of people with disabilities, their needs and unmet needs, and the barriers they face to participating fully in their societies. This includes information on data, health, rehabilitation, assistance and supporting, creating enabling environments, education and employment. The UN has a range of programmes focused on disability generally as well as specific disabilities including mainstreaming disability in development and monitoring and evaluating in particular in relation to the SDGs. There are many other global initiatives working with disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights including Handicap International and Disabled Peoples International and the International Disability and Development Consortium.

The Business Case

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Business and Disability Network is a unique employer-led initiative that works to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in workplaces around the world. They promote 10 principles including respect and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, developing policies and practices that promote people with disabilities against discrimination, promoting equal treatment and equal opportunity, increasing accessibility, job retention, confidentiality of personal information and consideration the needs of all types of disabilities. The Network has a range of resources for companies and students including webinars and work they have done in collaboration with other partners, for example with Accenture on The Disability Inclusion Advantage that shows that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforce have outperformed their peers. They also have a resource exploring the business case of inclusion of youth with disabilities.

Reporting

In 2015, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which many companies, including Universities, use as a framework for sustainability reporting developed guidance in association with the European Network for CSR and Disability on how to include persons with disabilities into the GRI framework (available in English and Spanish) Its aim is to enhance organizational understanding of the value of transparency on disability, in terms of creating inclusive workplaces, as well as taking advantage of the business case of disability for the development of new products, services and physical environments. The ILO has also published a guidance on “The Disability and Corporate Social Responsibilities that compares reporting practices of 40 multinational enterprises.

Guidance

The United Nations Global Compact developed a Guide for Business on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities to help improve business’ understanding of the rights of people with disabilities, including how to respect, support and give them an opportunity to improve their competitiveness and sustainability in alignment with relevant UN conventions and frameworks. They have also produced a document which highlights company practices and operations in the areas of hiring, retention, products, services and corporate social responsibility in terms of persons with disabilities as well as a webinar discussing the inclusion of workers with disabilities.

The ILO offers a practical guide on promoting diversity and inclusion through workplace adjustments including step-by-step guidance and how and when these should be provided. The Ethical Trading Initiative has developed guidance in line with the work being done by the Global Compact and the ILO on disability in the global supply chain. There are many NGOs providing guidance as well. For example, Handicap International developed a white paper focused on promoting partnerships to employ people with disabilities with a six step guide for companies to ensure they’re ready to welcome more colleagues with disability.

Cross Cutting Issues – International Day of Person’s with Disabilities

There are many differences between the current global Sustainable Development Goals and the previous Millennium Development Goals. We have gone from 8 to 17 Goals, from a set of goals determined by a small community of government officials to one that have the support of the international community including NGOs, business and educational institutions. Another thing that has changed between the MDGs and the SDGs is the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities not just once, but throughout.

Over a billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability, about 15% of the world’s population and this number is growing. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, defines persons with disabilities as “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. In honour of the International Day of Person’s with Disabilities on December 3rd, this weeks’ posts will focus on how the global community, business and business schools are engaging in the challenges and opportunities related to disabilites.

Disability and the Sustainable Development Goals

Disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populations and is more common in women, older people and the poor. Because they face widespread barriers to assessing services people with disabilities have worse health and socioeconomic outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

Persons with disabilities are specifically mentioned 11 times in the SDGs although it is important to note that most if not all of the goals and targets are related to disabilities (for example SDG 5 around Gender Equality includes women with disabilities). But there are several specific references including:

4 -Guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive
learning environments and providing the needed assistance for persons with disabilities.

 

8- Promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowingpersons with disabilities to fully access the job market
10 – Emphasizing the social, economic and political inclusion of persons withdisabilities

11: Creating accessible cities and water resources, affordable accessible and sustainable transportation systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible and green public spaces

17: Underlining the importance of data collection and monitoring of the SDGs, emphasis on disability disaggregated data.

What does this mean in practice?

Despite these goals, and the fact that most countries have signed the Convention, only 45 countries have anti-discrimination laws to protect disabled people. This includes according to the World Report on Disability:

  • Ensuring a recruitment process free of discrimination. This includes accessibility in communications, in interview mechanisms, timing and format allowances for exams etc.
  • Promote an accessible physical working environment including disabled friendly parking, doorways, ramps, cafeterias, workstations, washrooms, meeting rooms etc.
  • Promote reasonable accommodations including communication accessibility, flexible working hours, transportation accessibility etc.
  • Promote a healthy, safe and stigma free working environment
  • Promote equal opportunities for career development as well as equal pay for equal work
  • Promote job retention and return to work for people who acquire a disability during the course of their employment
  • Promote access to training and necessary diplomas to be able to work or become self-employed

So what can a business school do to promote inclusiveness?

Enabling access to all mainstream services is important. In order to do this schools must look at barriers that different students, with different impairments face. There has been a paradigm shift in approaches to disabilities, away from a medical understanding to a social one. Disability arises from the interaction between people with a health condition and their environment and it is experienced in each individual. As the UN Global Compact puts it, “persons with disabilities form a very heterogeneous group. For example, a person with an intellectual impairment, someone who is visually impaired or someone with a mental health condition/psychosocial impairment all encounter different barriers”. According to the UN Flagship Report on Disability released today, more than 10% of persons with disabilities have been refused entry into school because of their disability and more than a quarter reported schools were not accessible or were hindering to them.

These barriers don’t just relate to physical access to spaces. People with disabilities face widespread barriers in accessing a whole range of services including, but not limited to health, education, employment and transportation, even information. These impact their ability to study, their time on campus, and their employment opportunities post graduation.

Focusing on removing these barriers isn’t the only way that schools should engage. Attracting and accepting students with disabilities isn’t just about anti-discrimination or encouraging diversity. It also needs to focus on inclusiveness. Do your disabled employees and students feel included?

Schools encourage inclusiveness by organizing a range of activities and services aimed at raising awareness about persons with disabilities, in particular the challenges that they face. While business schools have courses exploring human rights, very few discuss the challenges, opportunities as well as the contributions that people with disabilities make to society and the economy. Out of the more one billion people with a disability, 80% are of working age but according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) fewer than 20% of these are currently working. Research done by Accenture found that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforce have outperformed their peers. A new range of specialized programmes, courses and research projects are tackling just that as we will see in the examples presented in other posts this week.

Finally, none of this work should be done without participation from persons with disabilities. The disability movement’s principle is “nothing about us without us”. Therefore including individuals with disabilities in discussions about what they need and how those needs, including relating to research and curriculum, is crucial and an opportunity in itself.

Disability shouldn’t just be seen in terms of numbers or access but about exploring and providing opportunities that engage all students. Disability doesn’t just impact individuals with disabilities, it is a cross cutting sustainability and business issue as well.

Next post: Resources on Disability

#act4SDGs and the University of Wollongong

In 2018, the Global Day to #act4SDGs, September 25th, marked the third anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals where thousands of institutions, organizations and citizens across the world mobilised to take concrete actions for the SDGs. Events registered at http://www.act4sdgs.org took place in 143 countries involving over a million people. The University of Wollongong in Australia joined this collective by organizing an interfaculty student challenge event focused on coming up with local solutions to the SDGs. I spoke with Belinda Gibbons, coordinator of PRME activities at the University (as well as coordinator of the Australia and New Zealand PRME Chapter), about the event.

What was the interfaculty student challenge and how did it come about?

To realise the SDGs we need a cross-sector approach. This is also required in Universities where students from all faculties are given the opportunities to come together and learn, challenge and find innovative solutions to complex local and world challenges. The Faculty of Business at UOW have been engaging in SDG conversations with other faculties throughout 2018 and it seemed appropriate to pilot an interfaculty event on #ACT4SDGs day. We wanted to have an interdisciplinary event so that the challenges we face can be viewed and discussed through the many lenses upon which they impact. We involved Business, Law, Humanities & the Arts, Engineering and Information Sciences, Science, Medicine & Health and Social Sciences.

How was the day organised?

We pitched the pilot interfaculty challenge to Dean Scholar and Advanced Undergraduate students across the different faculties. Forty-one students registered and attended. Once registrations were closed, interdisciplinary tables were pre-organised and upon arrival students received a table number. During the two hour event students were invited to engage in two SDG challenges. Each challenge asked them to come up with an innovative solution specifically aimed at our local area. The winners were given specially made SDG badges and the opportunity to develop their idea further.

What were the challenges?

The first challenge asked students to discuss and innovate for SDG 13, climate action and the second challenge specifically focused on SDG 3, good health and well-being. Students then pitched their ideas to judges from both academia and industry with expertise in the challenge areas. Solutions/ideas revolved around an increased use of clean energies, education programmes, youth/elderly collaborations, health technologies and surprisingly simple ideas and everyday acts that can impact on a big scale.

How did you communicate the SDGs to an interdisciplinary audience?

The SDGs are by very nature interdisciplinary and they give us a common language through which to have a discussion about critical challenges facing all of us. Although, while a common language, each SDG means different things to different disciplines. So the students took SDG 13 and discussed it through their lens initially, each respecting the thoughts of everyone and time to speak. They then moved onto discussing solutions as common problem areas arose in their discussions.

What were some of the insights that came out in regard to working across disciplines?

It was clear when observing the interdisciplinary discussions, just how silo focused the initial ideas being discussed were and this is expected given the nature of higher education specialties. The more disciplines at a table, the longer it took for collaboration and agreement to occur (tables ranged from 6 – 9 students per table/approx. 6 disciplines per table). Feedback received reflected that students liked networking with like-minded peers, developing interdisciplinary skills and competence and being part of a global movement for change.

What lessons did you learn?

The event was very successful. It definitely sparked greater interest in holding more interfaculty events and more discussions around the SDGs. It was exciting to know that the students had been discussing the SDGs in their disciplines and so they had a good idea of what they were prior to attending. It was extremely interesting in analyzing feedback that students did not feel SDG 14 or SDG 15 were relevant to their study and minimally relevant to their future career which we can incorporate into our curriculum moving forward.

You mention that students have the opportunity to develop their ideas further. Could we add a bit about how and what you are hoping will happen?

One way for students to receive is recognition for their interfaculty workshop is through a UOW programe titled ‘UOWx’. Launched in 2015, UOWx is an initiative that recognises the valuable knowledge and skills that students gain by actively participating in the wide range of co-curricular activities that the University of Wollongong offers outside of a students academic coursework. UOWx aims to provide students who have engaged in co-curricular activities at the University of Wollongong with an advantage in the increasingly competitive workforce, by formally recognising their involvement upon graduation. Students undertaking #Act4SDGs workshops will have this officially recognized on their UOWx records and then eligible for a UOWx awards.

Another area that we are expanding discussions on is the potential to take winning pitches to UOW iAccelerate. iAccelerate is a University of Wollongong (UOW) business incubator program that is here to help you build and grow your business. iAccelerate is a business incubator designed to support UOW students, staff and the greater Illawarra Community. We are building a successful innovative economy for the future of the region.

Any advice for others thinking of doing something similar?

We would like to run this on a larger scale in the future. Feedback indicated that 100% of students want to attend future inter-faculty workshops geared at progressing the SDGs. If others are thinking of undertaking this event, I would recommend gaining executive support from each Faculty and having an interfaculty organising team. We also had interfaculty students on our organising team as this enabled them to have a voice on choosing which SDGs to focus on, type of food to be served, selection of room and overall run sheet for the event.

 

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