When it comes to bringing sustainability and responsible leadership to campus, many schools are finding that one of the best ways to do this is to bring together a range of partners from across society who are already actively working in this area. This is proving to be an excellent opportunity for the schools themselves not just to learn more about these issues but to help strengthen the position of sustainability in companies and organizations by providing space for discussion and collaboration on common research projects.
Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia realized that in order to create a better understanding of CSR in Australia they needed to gather and learn from leading businesses in this area. I recently had the chance to speak with the faculty Leader of Global Citizenship, Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, who started the MGSM CSR Partnership Network about this new programme.
1.What is the MGSM CSR Partnership Network?
The MGSM CSR Partnership Network was created to better understand Corporate Social Responsibility in Australia, to create significant social impact through shared learnings and to increase public awareness about theses issues. The Partnership Network is composed of select organisations renowned for their CSR initiatives. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in Australia sponsor the Network that also includes: National Australia Bank (NAB), PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia (PwC), IBM, AMP Insurance, Unilever, Brookfield Multiplex, the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the New South Wales Department of Citizenship, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the New South Wales Centre for Volunteering. The Network meets to discuss best practices, innovations and challenges regularly and will serve as the basis for new studies while benefitting from evidence-based peer learning to guide their own corporate initiatives. A key project relating to the Network will be an annual study on various aspects of CSR that aims to create an evidence-based dialogue with various stakeholders from across all sectors in Australia.
2.Why/How did you start the Network?
Two principles guided me in starting this initiative. The first was to work from a multi-stakeholder approach. If we were to create some CSR Partnership Network, it was clear to me that we would need to include the Not For Profits, the community and the Government and to have their voice heard in these matters to create shared value. The second principle was that this will have to be an evidence-based dialogue, led by research and creating knowledge and shared learning.
3.What have been some of the challenges? The successes?
It was not easy for some of the companies to commit to participating in the study. Some had concern regarding survey fatigue or having their own CSR survey. However, many saw it as a great opportunity to network, lead the way in responsible management and benefit from an academic study, which will allow them to improve employee participation in CSR, engagement and motivation.
In terms of the successes, we now have a “dream team” of great companies, governmental departments and NFPs on board. It took 18 months to put this team together and we are finally ready to launch the MGSM CSR Partnership Network on the 22nd of March, in the first workshop. It was well received by almost anyone we’ve approached, as it was seen as beneficial to all participants.
4. How does the Network benefit the work the school is doing in CSR?
The MGSM CSR Partnership Network creates a valuable network, which increases the positive reputation of the MGSM. It also creates ongoing research opportunities, which allows me to collect, analyse and publish data. But most importantly, it creates real partnership with various stakeholders that will in turn create knowledge, inspire others, create social impact and help advance CSR in Australia.
5. What advice do you have for other schools thinking of putting together similar networks and what’s next for the network?
We will run the first workshop on the 22nd of March. In April we will run the online survey on corporate volunteering. We will have another workshop to share the results and then in September we will launch the annual report in a big event, with the participation of the New South Wales state Minister of Communities and Citizenship, The Hon. Victor Dominello MP.
In terms of advice for other schools; believe in what you do and others will follow. If you are very passionate about Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Social Volunteering, it is amazing what can be achieved.