A Selection of MOOCs on Sustainability and Ethics for Winter 2017 (Part 2)

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-14-37-09Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. Below is a selection of such courses offered this Winter 2017, listed by topic, from PRME as well as some non-signatory schools. The first part focused on courses that relate to social and environmental issues. Here we focus on economic issues and how business specifically is embedding sustainability topics.

Economic Issues

Citizen Engagement A Game Changer for Development: This course explores citizen engagement and the role citizens can play in actively shaping public policy. Students will learn about cutting edge research and theories related to citizen engagement, and examples of ways citizens and governments are working together in new ways to improve their societies. From the World Bank Group – starts February 7.

Foundations of Development Policy: Advanced Development Economics: This course uses economic theory and data analysis, explore the economic lives of the poor, and the ways to design and implement effective development policy. From Massachusetts Institute of Technology – starts February 6.

From Poverty to Prosperity Understanding Economic Development: The course explores the role of government and the key political, social and economic processes that elevate any society from poverty to prosperity. From the University of Oxford – stats February 1.

Greening the Economy Sustainable Cities: This course explores sustainable cities as engines for greening the economy including sustainable urban transformation and the ways to effectively direct urban development toward ambitious sustainability and climate goals. From Lund University – starts January 9.

Subsistence Marketplace: This course explores unique synergies between pioneering research, teaching, and social initiatives through the Subsistence Marketplace Initiative. Unique to this approach is a bottom-up understanding of the intersection of poverty and the marketplace. From University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – starts now.

Greening the Economy Lessons from Scandinavia: This course explores greening the economy on four levels – individual, business, city and nation including the relationships between these levels. From Lund University – starts January 9.

Business Specific

Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: This course explores what corporate social responsibility is, what does it mean and what does it involve? Do stakeholders really care, and if they do, how should companies communicate with them? Universite Catholique de Louvain – starts February 6.

Strategy and Sustainability: This course explores the topic of business and sustainability focuses on filtering out the noise and making choices in a hard nosed and clear eyed way. From IESE – starts now.

Practicing Substantiality, Responsibility and Ethics: This course explores to process to engage in changing practices to make the more sustainable, responsible and ethical. It starts with exploring the trends of responsible management practices From University of Manchester – starts now.

Become a Social Entrepreneur: This course teaches students how to create societal impact through social entrepreneurship: the discovery and sustainable exploration of opportunities to create social change. It includes teamwork to explore a problematic issue and learn more about the source of the problem. Including creating a business plan. From Copenhagen Business School – starts January 2.

Social Impact Strategy Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators: This course offers an introduction to social impact strategy and social entrepreneurship, including key concepts, an overview of the field, and tools to get started as a changemaker. From University of Pennsylvania – starts now.

New Models of Business of Society: This course discusses the emergence of a new story about business which locates business within a social framework. It explores how almost every business creates or destroys value for customers, suppliers, employees, communities and society and how to create a business that makes money and makes the world a better place. From University of Virginia – starts now.

A Selection of MOOCs on Sustainability and Ethics for Winter 2017 (Part 1)

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-14-37-09Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. Below is a selection of such courses offered this Winter 2017 from PRME as well as some non-signatory schools. The first part focused on courses that relate to social and environmental issues while the second part focuses on economic issues and how business specifically is embedding sustainability topics.

Social Issues

Principles of Designing for Humans: This course surveys theories and findings from the social sciences with special attention to how these concepts influence the way we design for human interaction. It will cover how people perceive and process information, motor capabilities and limitations, decision-making and problem solving, and how emotion and social factors impact user experience. From University of Michigan – starts January 17.

Top 10 Social Issues for the President’s First 100 Days: A collaborative learning project which taps into the knowledge and ideas of University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice faculty to examine the most pressing social justice issues facing the United States. Starts January 20.

Social Norms Social Change: This course explores social norms, the rules that glue societies together. It teaches how to diagnose social norms, and how to distinguish them from other social constructs, like customs or conventions. These distinctions are crucial for effective policy interventions aimed to create new, beneficial norms or eliminate harmful ones. From University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF – starts January 2.

Human Rights: This courses focuses on human rights as a multidisciplinary field from history to activism, development and more. From Curtin University – starts February 13.

International Human Rights Law: This course looks at how an individual’s human rights are protected from both public and private power by international laws. From Universite Catholique de Louvain – starts January 10.

Anthropology of Current World Issues: This course uses anthropological ideas to see the world from a range of perspectives and points of view. From The University of Queensland Australia – starts January 4.

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education: This course explores how indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work done in classrooms, organisations, communities, and everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful. From The University of British Columbia – starts January 24.

Readings in Global Health: This course explores the most pressing issues in global health through a series of reviews and interviews with leading experts. From Harvard University – starts January 23.

Education in a Changing World: This courses looks at education as a social institution charged with communicating the knowledge, skills and cultural values that society considers most important. It looks at how the aims of education have changed over time in response to changing and competing views and what is considered a ‘good society’ and ‘good person’ as well as changes that come from new understandings of a constantly changing world. From Open2Study – starts January 9.

Environmental Issues

Water in a Thirsty World: This course explores the journey of water – how it began, and its availability today in light of global warming and urbanization. It explores the natural environment is reaching a threshold and the impact that it has for us and for the water supplies that we rely on. Open Study – January 9.

Agriculture and the World We Live in: This course looks at the world’s population and the crucial role of agriculture in feeding the steadily increasing number of people. It focuses on how climate and soil dictates the types of farms we see in different regions and countries. From Massey University – starts January 9.

Global Environmental Management: This course explores the best environmental technologies for a sustainable development and how they are managed in various settings around the world. It covers global trends that influence our environment and the living conditions and how different management systems and approaches that are used around the world to management the environment. From Technical University of Denmark – starts January 2.

Contemporary Issues in Ocean Governance: This course considers the nature of how the world’s oceans are regulated. It will go through how ocean governance has evolved through time and how it actually works. From University of Wollongong – starts January 9.

Climate Change: This course explores how climate change will affect us, why we should care about it, and what solutions we can employ. From Macquarie University – starts January 9.

Our Energy Future: This course introduces students to the issues of energy in the 21st century – including food and fuels – which are inseparably linked – and will discuss energy production and utilisation from the biology, engineering, economics, climate sciences, and social science perspectives. From University of California San Diego – starts now.

2016 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 2)

It is once again time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2016 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. PRiMEtime provides an extensive and growing database of examples from schools around the world on how to embed sustainability, ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education as well as tips on how to move forward. (Click here for Part 1).

 

SDG9

Italy’s SDA Bocconi School of Management’s Impact Investing Lab launched in 2013 aims to become a reference point at the national and international level to support the development of impact investing as a new investment approach and engages students in its development. In February a number of business competitions for students developing new business ideas were featured around the SDG issues including events at the University of California, Berkeley, INSEAD, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Singapore Management University.

As businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies to highlight in the classroom. Featured sustainable business examples collected from faculty in 2016 included:

SDG10

JAMK University of Applied Sciences’s United for Refugees Programme supports continuing education of newcomers and asylum seekers in Finland, in particular those with extensive professional experience who are also highly educated. The University of Western Australia’s Social Impact Festival brings together individuals and organisations who are committed to making Western Australia a better place. The festival featured 34 events over 7 days in 16 venues around Perth all focused around exploring the different aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

SDG11

The Student Ambassador Campaign at Antwerp Management School aims to engage students in sustainability discussions and, in particular the SDGs and involve them in a range of activities to make their campus and communities more sustainable. The Public-Private platform at Copenhagen Business School is a combination of interdisciplinary research, teaching and public engagement that helps moblise, foster and develop society wide solutions to pressing matters of public concern.

The month of June was focused on exploring programmes and opportunities at business schools aimed at Indigenous students in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. As the guardians of 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, the 370 million Indigenous people living around the world are increasingly being represented and supported by a range of innovative programmes business schools. A first post introduced Indigenous people around the world and provided a range of resources that can be used in the classroom to raise awareness about not just Indigenous issues but also Indigenous business. The University of Waikato in New Zealand has developed an MBA that fosters Maori values and Indigenous ways of doing business while also exploring real world business challenges that involve and are relevant to indigenous business and industry. In Canada, Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University has gone from having very few Indigenous students to having a range of programmes including an Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business & Leadership open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. At the University of New South Wales in Australia, the Nura Gili unit provides pathways for prospective Indigenous students to study in all faculties and programmes including student support, tutorial and study spaces. It also promotes Indigenous studies programmes, academics and researchers.

 

SDG12

The Managing Visitor Impacts course at Victoria Business School in New Zealand was designed to deepen students’ understanding of sustainable tourism development by exposing them to the complexities, realities and tensions commonly observed in developing countries. IAE’s International Development Department invited companies from industrial sectors in Argentina to come to the school to share experiences and reflect on how to improve sustainability in these sectors. In the US, San Francisco State University’s College of BusinessHigh School Summer Sustainability Workshop pairs faculty and MBA students with high school students to explore a range of sustainability topics including fair trade, life cycle analysis, and responsible consumption and production. The Nestle/Nova Best Paper Award, a partnership between Nestle and Nova School of Business and Economics in Portugal allows students to develop their final Master’s thesis around the area of marketing specifically children consumer behavior. TERI University in India is focused on implementing several of the SDGs in particular Goal 12 around Sustainable Consumption and Production. They have partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme and Switch Asia to create a special training programme around the topic.

 

SDG16

IESA in Venezuela has developed an innovative programme focused on effective governance from training legislators and members of parliaments to be able to do their jobs better. On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People PRiMEtime featured an innovative partnership at La Trobe University to develop future Indigenous business leaders in the Public sector. A post in May provided an overview of the range of resources offered by the UN Global Compact on the topic of Anti- Corruption specifically as it relates to Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Part 2 provided a range of ways that academic institutions can get involved in UN Global Compact anti-corruption projects.

 

SDG17

Glasgow Caledonian University brings together big names from across the fashion industry through their Fair Fashion Centre to offer different perspectives on sustainable development and help identify new solutions for fashion and retail industry. Reykjavik University hosts Festa, the Icelandic Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, a non-profit organization founded by six Icelandic companies to further discussions on CSR in Iceland.

In July a special three part series on developing partnerships with the UN Global Compact locally was featured. Part 1 looked at how business schools are working with Global Compact offices locally and promoting the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Part 2 looked at how business schools are promoting and providing training around the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Part 3 looked at how schools are working with Global Compact Local Networks on specific sustainability issues. It also explored eight places to find business partners for sustainability projects (Part 1 and Part 2)

There were also a series of blogs featuring a number of resources to assist schools in engaging in the Sustainable Development Goals as well as an overview of the different ways that management education and the UN are collaborating.

 

Looking Forward

2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year. As we start really diving into the SDGs we will, and are already seeing a growing number of schools not only raising awareness about the SDGs on campus but really embedding them into their operations, research, reporting and curriculum. Then of course there is the Global Forum for Responsible Management Education – 7th PRME Assembly which will be taking place on the 18-19 of July in New York City. In 2017 Primetime will be focused on celebrating the 10-year anniversary of PRME and focused on further exploring how business schools can be key players in moving the SDGs forward.

For more innovative examples of how business schools are embedding sustainability, and the SDGs, you may be interested in following www.100futuremba.com where I will be posting one example a day for 100 days featuring many PRME Signatories.

Thank you for a fantastic 2016 and for contributing all of your good practice examples and stories. We encourage you to engage with the discussion and promotion of PRME and the Sustainable Development Agenda on all levels, including through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As always if you would like to share your initiatives with the PRiMEtime community please do get in touch at gweybrecht@thesustainablemba.com.

Happy New Year!

2016 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 1)

It is once again it’s time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2016 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. PRiMEtime provides an extensive and growing database of examples from schools around the world on how to embed sustainability, ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education as well as tips on how to move forward.

This year, 60 new articles were posted featuring over 143 examples from more than 65 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review the examples featured this year, organized roughly around the SDGs, and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click on the links to read the full article).

SDG1SDG2SDG3The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has developed an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Business School and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, call the Wellness Clinic. It provides preventive care programmes designed, promoted, administered and implemented by students. IEDC-Bled School of Management partnered with members of the UN Global Compact Local Slovenia to organize workshops around the theme of “Health promotion in the workplace as part of the corporate social responsibility and sustainable business development’.

For one week in March, EADA Business School’s campus transforms into a model refugee course where students taking the Managing Humanitarian Emergencies elective learn about the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies and extreme situations in general.

 

SDG4

La Trobe Business School (Australia), ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) founded CR3+ Network, a new program that provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the four schools to work together to build capacity in responsible management education. In the USA, Western Michigan University (USA) partnered with Christ University in Bagalore in India to create an experiential experience to engage students in sustainability discussions in India. Reutlingen University in Germany shared their experiences with the Ethikum Certificate awarded to students who complete a number of special experiences and courses during their time at university. Hult International Business School shared their experiences integrating the SDGs into the core Business and Global Society course. Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School also shared their experiences integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into their PRME Sharing Information on Progress Report. The University of St. Gallen and oikos work together to offer the PhD Fellowship Programme, a unique opportunity to support international PhD students writing their thesis on sustainability in economics or management.

PRiMEtime also explored a range of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic. A series of posts provided an overview of the MOOCs available in the Spring (Part 1 and Part 2) and summer (Part 1 and Part 2).

 

SDG5

The American University of Beirut’s University for Senior Programme aims to redefine the role of older people in society by providing them opportunities to remain intellectually challenged and socially connected through a range of lectures, study groups, educational travel programmes, campus life and intergenerational activities. The American University of Beirut also paired up with Citi to provide crucial support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in Lebanon and the MENA region with the goal of increasing their numbers significantly. Altis Postgraduate School of Business and Society in Italy introduced us to E4Impact, a special programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainability sector in their country.

 

SDG6SDG7

Ryerson University (Canada) designed a unique interdisciplinary programme that brings together faculty from all of the university’s six department called the Environmental Applied Science and Management (EnSciMan) with a focus on environmental management. In Italy, the University of Bologna’s Launch Pad aims to leverage the know-how of the hundreds of PhDs and post-docs studying at the university to facilitate its transformation into valuable products and services, many focused on social and environmental topics. PRiMEtime also looked at a range of global student networks engaged in sustainability that are active within and across business schools.

 

SDG8

Antwerp Management School’s ID@Work research programme aims to support organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience at the University of Wollongong is an educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. Also in Australia, Deakin University has been exploring how to encourage and train more Indigenous Australians to become accountants (currently of the more than 180,000 Australian professional accounting body members, only 30 identify as Indigenous). The Northwest Aboriginal Canadians Entrepreneurs Programme at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business is a partnership between several organisations including regional and provision government to offer first class entrepreneurial learning to the Indigenous people of Northwest British Columbia with the aim to enhance the self sufficiency and full economic participation of Indigenous people

Effective Governance Comes from Well-Equipped Legislators – IESA’s Legislators Training Program Shows How

legisladores6The Legislator Training Programme is a collaboration between Instituto de Estudios Superiores en Administration (IESA) and the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) in Venezuela. It came about because of a lack of training for parliamentary members and other officials within the National Assembly. The Programme aims to develop the capacity of members of the legislative branch. I spoke with Mariella Porras, manager for academic planning at IESA about this important project.

What is the Legislators Training Programme?

The Legislators Training Programme is a collaborative project between Instituto de Estudios Superiores en Administracion and the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) with financing from the European Union (EU). Started in 2013, its aim is to strengthen the National Parliament of Venezuela through the realisation of training programmes with courses and workshops aimed at members of the legislature (officials and workers of the National Assembly, deputies and their assistants).

How did the project come about?

When the National Assembly was created in 1999, the Parliament counted with the support of a special office focused on judicial issues and another assisting with economic issues. When the new National Assembly was put into place, these support offices where minimized and substituted by customised counselling. In 2010, the Institute of Parliamentary Studies worked on a project with the National Assembly and as part of that project came to the conclusion that there was a lack of knowledge and skills with the legislators (in part because of the closed special offices) as well as some weaknesses in the process of developing new laws.

In response to this, a proposal was developed between the Institute of Judicial Studies from the UCAB and IESA that was presented to the EU for consideration as part of their financing project relating to the promotion of democracy and human rights and presented by the Venezuelan’s Delegation to the EU in 2013. This proposal was successful – a final agreement was signed in 2014 and launched this past August with the aim of building the capacities of the members of the Assembly.

How does the programme work?

The programme is structured into two parts. The first is the design and execution of a training program that engages different levels of the legislature including:

  • Module on the theory of Legislation, the role of parliament in a democracy and the principles of parliamentary rights (Constitutional Laws, Administrative Law, etc.)
  • Module on Economics for parliamentarians including economic analysis, the impact and viability of a law, analysis of the situation, interpretation of indicators as well as areas to improve the generation process of laws.
  • Module on Performance Management
  • Module on additional management techniques including negotiation, conflict management, consensus building, analytical thinking, problem solving, creativity, thought processes, high performance teams among other topics.

The second part of the programme includes a period of support and advice during the last year of the training programme relating to the implementation of improvements of the legislative body, based on diagnoses raised with officials, and the application of the tools taught during the training programme.

What have been some of the successes?

The main challenge of the programme has been maintaining relationships with the various parliamentary bodies and the formulation and implementation of semi-annual work plans. However in the past 2 years of this programme there have been a total of 35 training activities and we have scheduled to conduct 10 more workshops in areas identified by members of Parliament for training including decentralization, public budget, relationship management, induction-training for parliamentary staff, etc.

What advice do you have for other schools thinking of doing something similar?

  • Identify potential partners and stakeholders that are crucial to engage in order to reach your target audience.
  • Put in place a mechanism to gather feedback throughout the project and incorporate that feedback in order to strengthen your offerings.
  • Be flexible with the planning and the execution of the project. Things will change regularly and the needs of your target audience are also likely to change so be open to adapting as you go.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are aiming to create a permanent Legislative Training Programme to form members of the National Assembly across a number of areas. One of the projects planned in this phase of the project is to tap into the experiences from the past few years delivering this programme to support the development of a basic programme to train members of parliament.
SDG17SDG11
SDG16SDG

Engaging Students in Extra-Curricular Learning – The Ethikum Certificate

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-16-13-07Reutlinger University in Germany, along with a newtork of other universities of applied sciences across southern Germany, offer students the opportunity to gain an Ethikum certificate. This certificate, awarded at graduation, shows the students‘ exposure to and experience in ethical and sustainability topics during their time at University. I spoke with Ulrike Baumgartner from Reutlinger University about this opportunity for students.

Introduce the Ethikum certificate and how it came about

The Ethikum certificate documents that students have been engaged in ethics and sustainability questions beyond their regular degree programmes. All universities of applied sciences in Baden-Württemberg in South Germany issue the Ethikum certificate. The idea of this certificate is rooted in a tradition universities in South Germany have practiced for a long time. Thus the network of universities of applied sciences (RTWE), which all have ethic and sustainability officers, decided to adopt this idea.

What are the key features of the programme and how does it work. 

The ethics and sustainability programme is an offer for students of all schools at Reutlingen University on a voluntary basis. Each semester we organise a variety of courses as workshops or lectures on different aspects of ethics and sustainability.

In addition to input oriented thematic workshops students may get involved in concrete social or political projects. This offers them a learning experience in a social context. Usually they work with other students, people with disabilities or refugees for one semester. After the semester they present their experiences in a colloquium we organise. For the participation at the workshops, the social projects and the colloquium students gain ethic credit points -usually 20 credit points per event. To obtain the certificate students need 100 credit points.

What have been some of the challenges? 

There are three challenges that I consider to be the most important.

First, the definition of the amount of ethic credit points per workshop or per social project is a bit complicated. We decided to base this definition strictly on the respective workload students have to complete.

Secondly, the transfer of experiences in social or political projects to the academic environment was not clear in the beginning. That is why we established the colloquium as a venue to present and discuss individual experiences and reflect on them with regard to a wider societal impact.

Thirdly, it is always a challenge to advertise our programme to students so that they will engage and choose to pursue the certificate.

Successes? 

First, we managed to integrate the awarding of the Ethikum in the official semester speech of the president of our university. That means that the president hands over the Ethikum to the students and our ethics officer gives a special speech honoring the students who receive it. This has increased the visibility of the programme.

Secondly, we now cooperate closely with the School of Textile and Design. We have now allocated ethics credits to their classes which can be used towards the Ethikum certificate.

Over 100 students are currently working on their Ethikum certificate at the moment and the programme is increasing in popularity.

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

The better an extra-curricular programme is interlinked with regular degree programmes the better. Thus, I would advise talking to individual professors in the schools on their regular teaching issues and ask what kind of extra-curricular course would match.

What’s next for the initiative?

Our next project involves reshaping our course work, to intensify the cooperation with other universities of applied sciences and to create a central conversion table for credit points. This last point is a very ambitious project which involves contacting all the responsible persons in the different degree programmes to arrange a mode of converting ethic credit points as each school at Reutlinger currently has its own system in this regard. A central conversion table would increase the transparency for students on how to obtain the credits they need.

We also aim to broaden the range of courses we offer our students in the programme. By advertising the ethics and sustainability programmes of other universities of applied sciences in the region we invite our students look at these other schools as well and pick courses according to their personal interest and collect further ethical credit points outside our university.

Finally, we are looking to organise more field trips to local companies that are role models in ethics and sustainability. Such an offer would broaden the diversity of the learning formats in our programme.

SDGSDG16SDG4

Engaging Employees with Intellectual Disability – Antwerp Management School

idwork-pagina-18ID@Work at Antwerp Management School in Belgium is a unique research project aimed at supporting organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The project identifies the levers that can help facilitate the employment of disabled people, as well as the potential challenges and obstacles related to this type of employment effort. Intellectual disabilities are part of most of the Sustainable Development Goals including Goal 8 (unemployment rate and average hour earnings of persons with disabilities) and Goal 16 (increasing the proposition of positions for persons with disabilities in different organisations including in decision making positions).

I recently spoke with Professor Bart Cambré, associate dean research from Antwerp Management School about this innovative initiative.


How did ID@Work come about?

In the margin of the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games, Antwerp Management School conducted a study on the employment of people with intellectual disability (ID). The research was done by an inclusive team existing of two athletes participating in the Special Olympics European Summer Games and a senior researcher without ID. Their study focused mainly on employment in sheltered workshops and social economy. A first white paper was published.
The positive experience Antwerp Management School had by working with the researchers with ID, their added value during interviews, and the obvious need of more information and data on employment of people with ID in the regular economy, motivated AMS to develop a new project: ID@Work was born.
What is ID@Work?

ID@Work is a unique scientific project on the inclusion of workers with intellectual disability in the regular economy. ID@Work, stands for intellectual disability@work and has 6 goals:

  • hire the researchers with ID who volunteered in the previous study
  • conduct a study on the employment of workers with ID in the regular economy
  • write a white paper on this study (at this moment only available in Dutch and French)
  • develop a free scan for employers
  • develop a coaching programme for employers wishing to hire workers with intellectual disability
  • organise HR Master classes to train HR personal to hire workers with intellectual disability. This will be an exclusive AMS product.

The first 4 goals have already been achieved. The most recent one was launched November, 2016 and is a scan enabling employers to check how ready a company is to hire workers with intellectual disability. After having taken the test, every participant receives instant feedback and can ask for a full report and profile including advice and links with further resources to engage employees with intellectual disability. Both the tool and the report are free of charges.

What were some of the results of the study you conducted?

For the study mentioned previously, the inclusive team visited 26 companies and interviewed over 60 people all involved in inclusive work with people with ID.
The team extracted 6 pillars on which working with people with ID is or should be based. It is obvious that if one of the pillars is lacking or not equally balanced compared to the other ones, the risk of failure or a less positive experience with working with an employee with ID rises.
Those 6 pillars are:
1. Knowledge & Expertise need to be present before starting. If the company lacks knowledge, call in the help of experts.

  1. Strategy – refers to the reason for inclusion. What are the motives of an employer to hire people with ID? Is there an economic inspired strategy or rather social responsibility?
  2. Job matching – refers to the processes to match a candidate with the tasks needed to be done. Job design is a key element.
  3. Work culture – refers to the values and norms of an organisation when it comes to diversity, performance, organisational practices and policy. Integration and respect are key.
  4. Experience & Support – how much experience does the organisation have in managing diversity and to what extend is there support to facilitate the inclusive policy?
  5. Empowerment – refers to the level of autonomy and self-reliance of the worker with ID. Both need to be stimulated and can be endangered when the employer/organisation has a (too) protective attitude towards the worker with ID.

What have been some of the challenges and successes?
Working with two researchers with ID has been eye-opening. It has become clear that they have another view on the world compared to researchers without ID and that their vision leads towards other types of questions and unexpected answers from the interviewees. It was definitely an added value to the study.

Also, by walking the talk, Antwerp Management School became its own case study. Experiencing real live that things go wrong when the job doesn’t match, that getting professional accompaniment and the right financial incentives as an employer, and other types of help is a complicated adventure in Belgium.

We’ve proven the need of a project like ID@Work to facilitate the employment of workers with ID and to make employers reflect on the possibility and the benefits of hiring people with ID. The fact that not only placement agencies and care organisations, but also the associations of entrepreneurs back the project and promote the test, is a key element for making this project transcend the purely scientific level and enable the tools to actually make a real difference for people with ID in the regular economy.

What does a school – or any other employer for that matter – needs to know before hiring a person with ID?
The most important thing is to gain knowledge on intellectual disability and to know what kind of tasks you would this person like to execute and what basic skills he/she needs to have able to do this. For example, would you like to hire a person with ID to help in administration, then list the tasks involved and the required skills. Does the job include sending emails, look up things on the Internet or use spread sheets to make listings, then be aware of the fact that the worker needs to know how to use a computer, write emails in a proper way, etc. Do not expect these skills to be granted. Reflect on the question if your company/organisation is willing to invest time and money into extra IT training for the worker with ID. Also determine if the tasks you would like to be executed by a person with ID are sustainable or limited in time. If so, you might need to foresee other matching tasks for the worker with ID later on or make him/her aware of the fact that the job is only temporary.

Second is communication. Make sure that the whole company or organisation carries the initiative. Everybody needs to know why a person with ID is being hired and what the benefits are.
Third, set boundaries. In a people and socially oriented environment such as a school, the danger of ‘over’-caring is real. Being too protective is not stimulating the empowerment of the worker and will consolidate the innate helplessness the majority of people with ID are locked into. On the other hand, too much care will weigh on the co-workers of the person with ID. Because of the innate helplessness and the fact that the borders between private life and work are not always clear to the worker with ID, they keep asking for all kinds of help if co-workers do not set clear boundaries. The danger for workers to become after-hour caregivers for their colleague with ID is real.

What’s next?

With another 6 months of the project left, we’re now working on the last two goals of the project: a coaching program for employers and HR Master Classes. The first one will be developed with agencies already active in placement and job coaching for workers with a distance to the labor market. The HR Master Classes will be an exclusive program by Antwerp Management School.

Parallel to this development we will be analysing the data harvested with the ID@Work scan and use the results to consult experts and authorities in improving policies regarding inclusive work.
We secretly hope to be able to install a chair on the subject later on.

SDGSDG11SDG8

%d bloggers like this: