Over the month of October, PRiMEtime will take a deeper look at the Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) Reports and, more specifically, the way that business schools are reporting on Responsible Management Education (RME) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We will hear from a range of Signatories about not just their experiences, but their thoughts on what the future of reporting on these topics will look like.
First, what is the SIP?
All PRME Signatories are required to report on their progress every two years and reports are accessible on the PRME website. A Guide to the Sharing Information on Progress Report offers some guidance as to what is expected. Every school takes their own unique approach, based on what makes most sense for their own stakeholders. This flexibility has enabled schools to engage more fully in PRME and adapt the reporting process to better benefit them. It also resulted in a multitude of approaches to reporting over the years that have inspired others to push their own efforts further and will form the basis for the way we report in the future.
There are 4 requirements outlined by the Secretariat for SIP reports. They must include a letter signed by the highest executive of the organisation, a description of practical actions, an assessment of outcomes as well as key specific objectives for the next 24-month period (concrete strategies and timelines encouraged).
What do the reports look like?
At every PRME Global Forum, a number of reports have received recognition for their approach to reporting. These recognitions aim to recognise quality of reporting, not the quality of what is reported. In June, during the Virtual Global Forum, four schools received recognition for their most recent SIPs. All reports submitted between May 1st 2017 and May 1st 2020 by Advanced Signatories were considered and the final recipients were chosen by a peer review committee. The following are observations from the reports analysed for these recognitions.
- Every report is different: The shortest SIP report submitted was 8 pages and the longest was 146 pages. The average length of a report was 36 pages and most reports were under 46 pages. The average of the shortlisted reports was 46 pages. Approximately 40% of reports had basic formatting while 60% were professionally formatted. Having a flashy report with lots of formatting, or a longer report with more information didn’t necessarily make it better (some of the professionally formatted reports were very hard to read). Often times schools that obviously invested a lot of time and energy into their reporting also invested time in layout and formatting.
- Some schools are providing quite a lot of data. Reports are increasingly including clearer and quantifiable goals and targets as well as metrics that are comparable over each SIP. However, the vast majority of the reports are still shying away from providing this. In the reports analysed for the recognition, 25% of reports didn’t include any assessment of outcomes or any key specific objectives for the next 24 months. Only 13% of the reports reported on metrics of any sort in their reports. A few schools are reporting on these regularly and exploring what this means.
- Schools clearly study the other reports from their region: There are quite a few similarities between reports from the same countries/regions. Some of this may simply be cultural: many times, universities in the same region are focused on similar issues and communicate in similar ways. However, it also looks likely that schools are studying the reports from their region before writing their own. This may have pushed up the level of reporting in certain regions resulting in more schools from these regions qualifying for recognition (for example Scandinavia, Australia/New Zealand, UK/Ireland).
- The stronger reports are getting stronger. Many Signatories, regardless of their size or resources, are using their SIP as an opportunity to regularly take stock of where they stand, gather momentum and interest around their work internally and set out goals and targets for moving forwards. Some reports even outline their process and the benefits that writing the SIP has brought to the school.
- However, this doesn’t include enough reports. While the stronger report are getting stronger, this represents only a portion of the overall reports. As a community we can definitely do more to strengthen the way that we report on our efforts moving forwards for the benefit of our schools, our overall impact as a network and, given our limited time and resources, ourselves as champions of RME in our institutions.
Throughout the month of October there will be a number of articles on PRiMEtime looking at the SIP. We will hear from the recipients of the Recognition of Excellence in Reporting, review some of the different approaches taken by Signatories and explore some possible options for the SIP of the future.
There are many previous posts focused on the SIPs, including these from 2019: