Reykjavik University in Iceland was awarded, at a special ceremony at the 2015 PRME Global Forum in June, a recognition for their Sharing Information on Progress report (SIP). In their first SIP report they created an engaging and reader friendly communication tool that brought together the work that they are doing at the Business School, while actively promoting the voices of different stakeholders. I spoke with Hrefna Sigriour Briem, Director of the B.SC Programme at the School of Business, about their experiences and lessons learnt preparing their first SIP report.
What approach did you take when preparing your first report and how did you go about putting the report together?
The report was an excellent opportunity to take a close look at what is already in place. We started by discussing with faculty what initiatives they were already taking in their teaching and research—we were pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was more going on than we had anticipated. The reporting process was a great opportunity to shed light on various activities that were already going on and illustrate them in a coherent manner. In addition we discussed the issue of responsible leadership and sustainability at various faculty meetings and a task force brainstormed for new ideas and initiatives, particularly how to get students more involved and how collaboration could be encouraged.
Is there a part of your report or the process that you are particularly proud of? What parts were, or still are challenging?
It was delightful to experience that faculty members and students were quite interested and enthusiastic. We are particularly proud of the fact that the report illustrates the work of a large majority of our people and the ways that responsible management education (RME) is exercised in our various programmes. Getting started was the most difficult part. What to report on and how to report was a challenge, and we spent considerable time discussing these issues.
How have you been using/communicating the report?
We have mostly used the report for internal purposes—communication to students has been our number one priority. We did however distribute the report to the business community, and the dean and programme directors have made a point of discussing the importance of RME both internally as well is in external communications such as interviews and commentaries. We do see further opportunities in participating in a dialogue with industry, particularly through FESTA, a local business network for promoting sustainability. Our report was sent to the 300 biggest organisations in Iceland and was also covered by various local media.
What advice do you have for other schools putting together their first report?
Start by looking for what is already going on. Get as many of the faculty members on board as you can, but don’t waste too much time on convincing the skeptics, the advocates are the ones that will make the change happen. It is also good to keep in mind that the report should be useful for the institution, we used the report and the process as means to take stock and set goals, that way you can refer back to it as you move along.
What plans do you have for your second report?
We will proceed with the discussion at faculty meetings and continue our task force meetings. By the time we deliver our second report we would like to have reached some of our goals set forward in the first report, particularly with regards to leading by example as an institution, increased student involvement, and measuring progress by surveying faculty and students on their knowledge and attitude towards responsible management and sustainability. We won’t change the format much, but will embark upon attaining more depth. There will be more emphasis on research concerning responsible management education. We will also create more discussion among faculty members, students, business and society.
What are some initiatives mentioned in the report that you are particularly proud of that you are working on at RU?
After we signed up to the PRME principles we came up with the idea of rewarding students for responsible and sustainable business ideas in our Entrepreneurship and
Starting New Ventures course. Reporting on this student involvement was particularly enjoyable. Taking count of students views and attitudes towards sustainability through a research initiative of two faculty members is a very important part of monitoring this constant improvement process, and we will continue this effort and report on it in our next SIP. Last but not least, we thought it was very important to demonstrate, in our SIP, the variety of research projects that our faculty are conducting related to responsible management and sustainability.
To read Reykjavik University Business School’s SIP report click here. A Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress was also launched at the Global Forum and is available here. For more posts on SIPs click here.