Educational Institutions Reporting on their Progress – A Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress
14 July 2015 Leave a comment
All signatories to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) are required to submit a Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report every 24 months. This report outlines the progress they have made in implementing the Six Principles on campus and often provides an overall report of what is happening in the field of responsible management and sustainability on campus and in the curriculum and research.
The underlying philosophy of voluntary reporting is one of flexibility—a way of giving account, in a concise and action-oriented way, of your academic institution’s progress towards implementation of sustainability under the framework of the Six Principles. It is an opportunity for your academic institution to bring together, showcase, challenge, and monitor your work, both internally and externally.
At the recent 2015 PRME Global Forum, a new report was released to help signatories create stronger SIP reports, called “A Basic Guide to the Sharing Information on Progress (SIP).” The guide breaks down the reporting process into six stages listed below.
Stage 1 Commit: Exploring why you are reporting and how to get the most out of the process
At the start of your reporting journey, it is important to think critically about why are you reporting, beyond the requirement as a signatory, and how you can get the most out of the reporting process and the report itself. It can help to raise awareness of your commitment to PRME, help organise and connect relevant people across your institution, and create new synergies and collaborations. Bringing the information together can also help define direction and strategy, and be a tool in benchmarking progress moving forward. Overall it gives a concise and comprehensive overall picture of your activities to promote PRME both internally and externally.
Stage 2 Collaborate: Identifying and engaging key internal and external stakeholders in preparing your report
Creating your report should involve as many individuals and groups across the institution as possible. Every academic institution takes a variety of approaches to who they bring together and how—at the beginning, throughout the writing process, and in the distribution of the final report. Overall it is crucial to ensure that senior management is actively engaged and supportive of this process and that the writing of the report itself is not allocated to a marketing department but adopted by faculty, students and staff who should have opportunities to provide further insight and content throughout the process.
Stage 3 Collect: Determining what information and data to collect, and how to collect and analyse it
One of the biggest challenges for an academic institution is determining what data to include, and what not to include in their SIP report. Many institutions are surprised by the wide variety of activities that fit under the heading of responsible management education, so it is important to start early and to collect data continuously throughout the year. Some schools host regular in-person meetings or conduct one-on-one interviews with colleagues throughout the process to collect information. Others send out surveys to a range of stakeholders. It is encouraged to explore what kind of synergies you can identify, working with others who are responsible for bringing together information for other projects such as accreditation. Reports should include how the schools are implementing the different Principles, but do not have to be formatted by Principle; they should be formatted in whichever way best communicates your institution’s strategy and efforts. The toolkit provides some suggestions as to what kinds of information can be reported to communicate progress on the Principles.
Stage 4 Create: Designing a report format that works for you
As previously mentioned, it is important that signatories’ reports be formatted in whatever way they feel best communicates their work. There are however a number of requirements outlined in the SIP policy and the toolkit, including a letter of continued commitment by the highest executive of the organisation, an overview of practical actions taken by the institution, an assessment of progress made on the past reporting period, and future objectives. However there are many other elements that can help strengthen your report such as an executive summary, including the perspectives of other stakeholders, reference to any metrics being development and used, reflection on challenges and how to overcome these. Lists can be placed in appendices for easier reading.
Reports are often organised in two different ways; either by Principle, or increasingly, according to the way your institution approaches responsible management internally. A handful of schools are also using reporting tools being developed for the private sector, including those of GRI, the UN Global Compact, integrated reporting, and the Carbon Disclosure Project. The Toolkit provides a range of tips to help create an engaging report.
Stage 5 Communicate: Sharing and using your report
Submitting the report isn’t a last step. Exploring how the report, and more importantly, its messages will be communicated and used throughout the year, will help to engage a wider audience in your work. Share the report or parts of it with current and prospective students, visitors, faculty, and alumni. It can also be used with current and prospective partners and employers. Promote it online and through social media, and bring it to life by organising a launch event and using it in the classroom.
Stage 6 Continue: Keeping track of achievements, goals, and targets in between reporting periods, through a process of continuous improvement
Once you are finished your report (congratulations!) it is time to start your next report. Meet with your team to review feedback and lessons learnt for your next report. Monitor its usage and keep track and share progress between reports. Get stakeholder feedback, both from students and external partners about how it could be stronger. Share your experiences with the wider PRME community through PRME Chapters and also PRiMEtime.