To finish off this month’s special feature on the Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) Report, I asked several Signatories what they felt the SIP of the future might look like. I asked them two questions. The first was to share their thoughts on what the SIP report itself will look like (part 1). The second question, explored further here, looked closer at what might be highlighted more within these reports. Out of the conversations had and answers submitted, six points came out clearly.
- Reports will include more data: Several respondents note that there needs to be a better balance between qualitative and quantitative data within the reports.
“I think the SIP report of the future will offer more data than it does currently. At Gustavson we are continually adding activities we can report on to our SIP. For example, over 70% of our students go on exchange, and we know that a significant number of them take sustainability-oriented courses while they are away, so this year we started surveying them and reporting on how many of our students do this. We are also looking at co-operative education work terms. Our co-op office has recently added tags to the jobs that they post so we can see if students are doing sustainability-oriented jobs. We plan on being able to count those next year.”Heather Ranson, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Canada
2. Reports will focus not just on the what, but the HOW: While many reports include long lists of initiatives, few reports include details on how the school is going about embedding PRME.
“I would like to see a better description of how new courses and entire programs are being changed towards sustainability focus. I would like to know how governance, financing of research is being overhauled. I would like to see how business schools also avoid negative impacts such as partnering with companies who still impact the planet too negatively (see the debate of Polytechnique with Total, or Dauphine with BNP, in the French context).”Delphine Gibassier, Audencia Nantes School of Management, France
“I think schools should report more courageously on how they really aim to address “wicked problems” in the society. This might mean, for instance, opening up more thoroughly their approaches as comes to inter-disciplinary work, how they do it in practice.”Marcus Granlund, Turku School of Economics, Finland
3. Reports will assess impact: Most respondents zeroed in on the need for reports to be more than simply lists of initiatives to focus more on impact.
“I would like business schools to go deeper in terms of the way they report, but more importantly focusing on trying to assess impact. How do we know if we really do educate responsible leaders? Do Ethics courses really have an effect? And how do we handle what is often perceived by students as “double messages” in many courses (standard theory + a sustainability “perspective”). Ultimately; how could we asses if we actually are a force for good in society in most respects and if the answer is “not always”, does that spur any organizational changes?Mattias Sundemo, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
“I think the SIP will need a overhaul. It is very descriptive and does not emphasize transformation enough. It is too easy to hide behind nice stories, and not face the need to change in depth the teaching & research. While I don’t think turning to a long list of indicators is the solution, I would like to see a stronger focus on impact, and see key changes in governance, financing and partnerships link to the transformation to a deeper focus on sustainability.”Delphine Gibassier, Audencia Nantes School of Management, France
“Institutional innovation is the key to making the SIPs more useable. To that end, perhaps SIP narratives could be organized around two terms from the innovation literature: sustaining innovation (improvements to already existing courses, programs, etc.) and disruptive innovation (brand new approaches in design, delivery, research, etc.). This requires some analysis, but it would break the tendency to list things. Counting things is not as relevant to change as accounting for that change.“Al Rosenbloom, Dominican University, USA
4. Reports will discuss challenges more openly: A few schools believe that reports should include more about the challenges faced by the schools and how they have gone about tackling these.
“It would be great to see more examples of challenges and failures – as a community of schools widely engaged in accreditation exercises, there can be a reluctance or element of care around sharing such things formally. Can we encourage the community to be more open in these reports, and to debate and discuss trials and missteps?”Eloise de Lautour, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
“I’d like to see a focus on challenges and an action plan to work on those challenges! Like corporate sustainability reporting, we should, as business school, shy away from green washing and strive to be honest in our reporting.Sanchi Maheshwari, Hanken School of Economics, Finland
5. Reports will dive deeper into the school’s operations: Many repondents noted that more needs to be reported on within the SIP in relation to how the school is embedding PRME not just into its curriculum, research and partnerships, but its own operations. As Virginia Lasio from ESPAE in Ecuador puts it, “ We are good at teaching and research, but how about our own management practices”.
“A key component of any SIP report should be addressing the ‘organisational practices’ aspect of Principle 2: Values. How does the Institution ‘walk the talk’? Provide clear examples of how the organisation itself contributes to the sustainable development agenda.”Carole Parkes, University of Winchester, UK
“I would like schools to report on Principle 7 – their own operations. What are schools doing to set and achieve climate goals? Water goals? Reduced printing? That is responsible leadership! With regards to the SDGs, we have not set objectives to achieve certain goals (like a company might) and perhaps we should. For example, we live on an island, so life underwater should be very important to us, but we do not have any goals associated with this SDG. Perhaps we should go a goal setting exercise and put a plan in place to achieve certain goals associated with the SDGs.”Heather Ranson, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Canada
I’d also like to see more schools report on campus and travel sustainability as well as gender and inclusion issues. Quite a few schools around the world are committing to be carbon neutral (including our school) and this is something we should start focussing on, not just for the reporting of course. Likewise, for gender equality and inclusion! We need to show our students and other stakeholders that we can indeed walk the talk!”Sanchi Maheshwari, Hanken School of Economics, Finland
6. Reports will include more about, and from, the students themselves: Finally, as Laura Steele from Queens in the UK put it “It would be great to see the student voice come through more, in relation to specific initiatives but also PRME and the UN SDGs more broadly”. Many respondents note that the SIP, as it currently stands, is often not very useful for students, but also does little to highlight what students are doing, or even engage students in the process of creating the report.
“I would also like the SIP to show how schools listen to students more. In France there is a large movement from students (Reveil Ecologique) and alumni (movement starting) to move business schools forward. Let’s listen & act!”Delphine Gibassier, Audencia Nantes School of Management, France
“In our last SIP (2016-2018), we wanted to make visible, and not anonymous under the “school”, all the people contributing, and we showcased personnel, students, alumni, partners, etc. It was a good recognition and we want to keep doing that”.Virginia Lasio, ESPAE, Ecuador
The Brennan School highlights student work, not just photos of students posing in group shots at conferences. Admittedly, there are hurdles to including actual student work. However, PRME’s focus is on creating future leaders, and those future leaders are the students we educate.Al Rosenbloom, Dominican University, USA
A special thank you to those who shared your thoughts about the SIP.