Expanding Your Approach to Reporting – Experiences from Copenhagen Business School

Throughout the month of October, PRiMEtime will be focused on how business schools are reporting on sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and responsible management more broadly and, more importantly, what the future of reporting might look like. Four awards for excellence in Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reporting were announced during the 2020 Virtual PRME Global Forum, selected by a peer review group. One of the recognized reports was from Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Denmark, a school that has been recognised several times now for their approach to reporting. I spoke with Martiina Mira Matharu Srkoc, the Head of the CBS PRME Secretariat, about their fifth SIP and some of the initiatives happening at CBS she is particularly proud of.

Tell us a bit about your latest SIP report? 

We start with our last report and build on it from there. We have also developed a roadmap. We start 1½ years in advance and have a student assistant to help collect data and for design and layout. The report is used by senior management, heads of departments, faculty etc. to reflect who is doing what in terms of sustainability, the SDG’s and RME. We also give all our external visitors a physical copy of our SIP report. 

What part of the reporting process do you feel is most important?

An important part of the process is mapping all of our activities in sustainability, the SDGs and responsible management education (RME). I can see the growing trend towards addressing these in ever greater numbers in curricula, research and partnerships here at CBS. This is particularly the case with the mapping of electives that address RME. This has provided us with a clear picture of the status of RME electives that has inspired us to expand this investigation to identifying the SDGs for the entire curricula and research here at CBS. Mapping is challenging, however. For example, data collection in research can be taxing as titles of papers are not always indicative of the actual content. We use our library’s key word search system but ultimately, we need to go through approximately 50 research papers manually.

How are you approaching the SDGs in your report?

We decided to highlight the SDGs address in our activities in this last report so this is embedded throughout. We address them in relation to three key strategic pillars that we have developed here at CBS that guide our work. These are:

  1. To facilitate, support and develop responsible management education initiatives and support the advancement of RME across CBS educational initiatives. 
  2. To facilitate research and contribute to the development and piloting of new models on responsible management education
  3. Internal and external outreach work that supports the 6 PRME Principles. 

What parts of your report would you like readers to take note of?

We continue to set ourselves targets each year and report on previous targets. This is highlighted in Section seven of the report (p. 67 onwards). One of our ongoing objectives has been in relation to  our curriculum development project(P. 17-18). This encourages students in bachelor and master programmes to reflect on their individual perspective on responsible management education by framing expected competencies that alumni attain from the programme. Each study programme has identified a programme ambassador from among their faculty to ensure that sustainability competencies are reflected in the different programmes. The SIP report not only outlines the project but some of the challenges we have encountered. 

How do you communicate your work internally?

We have a newly-launched series of RME/sustainability/SDG-related InFocus reports.  We decided to put together a series of indepth and easy to use reports for senior management, faculty, external stakeholders and eventually the greater PRME community to highlight not only what CBS PRME is, but also what PRME-related activities are taking place at CBS. It is a way of focusing in on some of the information from our SIP reports and tailor it for different audiences. We currently have four reports: 1. An Introduction to PRME at CBS, 2. SDG Mapping of CBS’ Course Offering, 3. SDG Mapping of CBS’ Research Publications and 4. Carbon Literacy at CBS PRME. 

At the moment we are working on the fifth InFocus report exploring the many student organizations at CBS focused on PRME. We have over 100 student organizations at CBS and it can be challenging to know what activities are undertaken and by whom. Some are perhaps self-evident, however others are less evident such as, for example, CBS Model United Nations or AIESEC. The main finding was that the number of students wanting to establish SDG/Sustainability/Climate-related student organizations is growing at such a rate that the umbrella organization for all student societies are advising students to join already established organizations. Overall, we have found that these organisations play an important role in bringing the SDGs into the student experience.  I hope that this report will also push more of the mainstream student organizations to add the SDGs/sustainability to their agendas. 

What would you like to see change in terms of business schools reporting on sustainability? 

I’d like to see a greater emphasis on statistical data to show RME/SDGs in curricula, research and partnerships as well as a more rigorous interpretation of what constitutes RME/SDGs in the three pillars. There can be a tendency, in some instances, to report on activities that, in reality, are not strictly RME/SDGs/sustainability related. I’d also like to see schools report more on the SDGs and, in particular, at what depth these are addressed in curricula, research and partnership (i.e. not just Goal 5 Gender Equality but specifically the empowerment of women and girls or even the sub-goals/targets 5.1-5.6 and 5a,b,c). It would also be helpful to see the methodologies used to identify SDG activities. 

How is your work around the SIP (or beyond) changing given the current situation? For the better? 

We are all better at working remotely and that goes for preparing the SIP report. It has become less subjective and more science-based as interviews etc. but I think that is actually a plus. Reports become less anecdotal – ”We did this, we did that” and more numbers oriented. I would also like to explore how to use our report most widely internally to highlight a department’s contributions to the PRME agenda.

Any advice for other schools working on their SIP? 

Know the stakeholders you want to gear the report to. Is it mainly internal or external? Is it senior management or faculty or other? If it is mainly for external stakeholders, who are they? Get your main stakeholders inputs on what they would like to see and perhaps even the format. In a perfect world, I would like different SIP reports for different stakeholders so they are tailor-made to address their specific needs.


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