There is one question that I ask every individual that I interview for the PRiMEtime blog. I always ask them if they have any advice for other schools thinking of undertaking a similar project to theirs. It may not seem like an important question compared to the others, but it is the one I have received the most positive feedback about. Regardless of where your institution is based, the people you work with, the topics you are covering or the projects you are focusing on, the challenges that signatories face are very similar and the tips shared by signatories for moving forward are applicable to us all.
So as PRiMEtime’s end of the year gift I have put together many of your tips from the past 8 years to come up this mini guide to implementing PRME. I hope this will help with your PRME related New Year resolutions, goals and plans, in particular those related to embedding and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read through them and then save them for when you need an extra push or burst of inspiration.
The 100 tips will be published over the next five days are organised into the following sections: why and what, what to focus on (part 1), getting started, designing your initiative, moving forwards (part 2), putting together a team, the importance of developing relationships (part 3), focus on faculty, focus on students, the importance of partnerships (part 4), funding and final words of advice (part 5).
Note that the institutions listed are those the individual was with at the time of the blog being posted (some have since moved). For more information about the context surrounding the tip, click on the links to read the full blog post.
Why and what
- It is the role of business schools. “Business in the 21stcentury is not separate from the SDGS. Business needs to address the risks the SDGs pose if not fulfilled. But there is also a huge opportunity for success by addressing them. We need to have the next generation of leaders focused on solving real problems for real people — not just product extensions for the privileged few, but products that work for the masses. I believe that is the proper role of the business school: to develop global leaders of integrity, courage and purpose, who are capable of building organizations that solve problems plaguing society, improve livelihoods and lives. In the end, that has always been the role of business: to solve problems that benefit society and move us forward.” Joanne Lawrence, Hult International Business School, UK (Click here for more)
- And a key part of what academic institutions do. “We understand that academic learning and research is incomplete if it does not appraise the strategic challenge raised by sustainability. Because academic learning and research is the field of universities and business schools, these institutions are called on to play an important role in the transformation of the current textile and fashion system into a sustainable one.” Miguel Angel Gardetti and Ana Laura Torres, Instituto de Estudios para la Sostentabilidad Corporativa, Argentina (Click here for more)
- Institutions need to set an example. “Business schools are organisations. As such, they should set examples and be their own agents of change by promoting ethical governance, compliance systems and practices that prevent corruptive, nepotistic behaviours—for instance in the hiring of faculty or in the procurement of school resources. By inspiring good, responsible leadership, business schools serve as incubators of responsible future leaders.” Mahja Nait Barka, ESCA Ecole de Management, Morocco (Click here for more)
- There is a demand. “A tip for other schools is to articulate the demand for social impact education across sectors and to identify the unique skill sets required by professionals to succeed in their areas of expertise. No longer are social impact considerations on the fringe for business success. It is now imperative for the resiliency of business and society as a whole to be part of the solutions that our world is grappling with.” Joanna Reynolds, Smith School of Business, Canada (Click here for more)
- Ask why not rather than why “I would challenge them to ask themselves why they shouldn’t provide such an opportunity to their students. In the same way an economy, information or politics are global, the humanitarian crisis has a global impact that obliges all actors and stakeholders to decide how they can engage and contribute to improving the situation. Raising awareness and capacitating current and future leaders is a solid step in a good direction.” Giorgia Miotto and Dr. David Noguera, EADA Business School, Spain (Click here for more)
- Don’t wait. “Simply put, it would be “get up to speed sooner rather than later”. Impact and responsible investing are major trends that are changing not only the nature of our capital markets but have the potential for the kind of social and environmental impact that is absolutely critical to people and the planet. With the values shifts taking place because of demographic changes, there isn’t a business school out there that shouldn’t be looking at how to integrate these subjects into their curriculum and activities.” Christie Stephenson, Sauder School of Business, Canada (Click here for more)
What to focus on
- Make the connections. “Make sure you look at all the targets, not just the broader 17 goals, and work out which goals and targets are most sensible to focus on for your institution. You should integrate them into your work focusing on the Six Principles of PRME as well.” Joanne Lawrence and Matthew Gitsham from Hult International Business School, UK (Click here for more)
- Expose students to different issues in different ways. “The key is enabling students to have exposure to different issues from different but connected disciplines and to use practical, work-based learning. The students have been encouraged to develop awareness through examination of their own personal values and to use this to critically analyse their previous experiences and current challenges. These are important stages in reflection and are crucial to the final stage of application. Awareness and analysis provide insights, but if students are to move beyond this, they need to use knowledge to initiate changes.” Carole Parkes, Aston University, United Kingdom (Click here for more)
- Focus on the business case. “Do not focus in on a course on female leadership or focus too much on themes such as glass ceiling and work life balance. Instead show business cases and let the women directors show their business skill and share their stories.” Dr. Mijintji Luckerath-Rovers, TIAS School for Business and Society, Netherlands (click here for more)
- Take these issues seriously. “The point of departure should be to make a conscious decision to accept responsibility, and then to make it manifest. This should be done firstly by visibly demonstrating to stakeholders that the school practices what it preaches. In other words, sustainability needs to permeate the thinking, reasoning and acting of the school’s faculty and administrative staff. Even in dedicated sustainability courses, many business academics merely pay “lip service” to this important endeavour. If business schools are to be successful in enhancing their students’ development of sustainable principles required for the 21st century, they will have to “walk the talk.” Dr. Japie Heydenrych, Milpark Business School, South Africa (Click here for more)
- Make it as relevant as possible. “The goal of any program should be to make it as relevant as possible to working professionals. Therefore, it was crucial for us to have actual practitioners in the field of sustainable investing involved at all stages. It also such a rapidly developing area that it requires curriculum to be constantly updated in order for the training to stay relevant.” David Lank, Concordia University, Canada (Click here for more)
- Focus on interdisciplinary offerings. “As we know, an interdisciplinary offering – a true interdisciplinary offering – is much more than allowing students to take units from a range of different Faculties. It involves educators – and students – working very hard to harmonise and integrate different knowledge and perspectives to find new harmonised solutions. It involves an incredible amount of work to collaboratively develop and where possible co-teach students but it is the type of work that rewards and enriches all of those involved. Interdisciplinary staff and students must be supported in this deep work, through educational training, time and resources. This extends to administrators, who need to develop new administrative models to support the inter-faculty offering.” Susie Ho, Monash Business School, Australia (Click here for more)
- Create a supportive environment. “Provide on-going advocacy and support for all your Indigenous students and alumni throughout their studies so that they can engage in the many academic, mentoring and industry opportunities offered within your school and beyond. Work together across all institutions locally, nationally and overseas to build greater opportunities for Indigenous people to thrive. Listen to and work closely with your Indigenous students and/or graduates and/or leaders and/or stakeholders across business, education, communities, corporations, government, media and not-for-profit sectors to ensure that you continue to respond and meet the needs of all our Indigenous business students and provide them with the confidence to take advantage of and choose from the best opportunities available. Engage, commission, invest and employ from a diverse range of new and established Indigenous researchers, academics and/or professionals with credibility and growing expertise across your teaching and research programmes. We are just at the beginning of this journey and we all have much to learn and gain from.” Rebecca Harcourt, UNSW Business School, Australia (Click here for more)
- Work on something that interests you. “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.” Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Maquarie Graduate School of Business, Australia (Click here for more)