Campus Sustainability at Copenhagen Business School

At the PRME Global Forum, several Signatories received Recognition for the Sharing Information on Progress Reports. Copenhagen Business School in Denmark once again received recognition for their report, a report which is distributed to staff, students and partners and is used as an important communication tool both on and off campus.

CBS has many initiatives around responsible management and sustainability and has recently launched a number of initiatives focused on campus sustainability. I recently spoke with Louise Kofod Thomsen, co-founder of the Sustainable Infrastructure Taskforce (SIT) at the business school about their approach to sustainability on campus and their plans moving forward.

Why is it important that universities bring sustainability onto their campuses?

Universities act as role models for their students and basically, nurture and influence future decision-makers. During students’ time at university, they are taught how to act when they take on positions in businesses, but if they experience that it is okay to waste or in other words act irresponsibly, this is what they will bring into their future roles. In this sense, campus creates a sense of identity for the students and it is our belief that focusing on sustainability on campus will ultimately foster certain attitudes towards responsible behavior upon graduating. 

What has been the push at CBS when it comes to embedding sustainability into the campus?

Every few years, the Minister for Education and Science negotiates new university development contracts. These contracts contain self-defined targets by individual institutions as well as obligatory targets based on societal needs. Until now, these contracts have not set targets for universities in terms of raising the bar for energy, waste etc. but we strongly believe that they should, in particular as part of universities’ role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Being a business school, we educate future employees for the business society (and other institutions). In recent years, we have experienced a growing interest from companies within the sustainability agenda that creates a natural push to how we should educate students. At the same time, there is also a considerable push from students through student organizations who wants to do more with sustainability.

What is your approach to sustainability on campus? What are some of the most material issues?

CBS Campus Services is working on getting waste sorting in all CBS buildings. At the moment they sort 12 different types of waste and we are working in close collaboration with the municipality to improve waste sorting on campus. A very recent development is the new department, CBS Estates. The new department will focus on 1. Operation and development of existing buildings, 2. Sustainability, 3. Development of teaching and learning facilities and 4. The establishment of Student and Innovation House in collaboration with the students. These four focus areas create a great platform for us at CBS PRME, student organizations and others to work more closely with CBS operations and top management to set even more ambitious targets for the green agenda on campus and launch projects that can get us closer to the goal of a more sustainable campus.

How are students engaged in sustainability on campus?

CBS engages students in sustainability on campus from day one. At the beginning of the first semester approximately 2500 new bachelor students start their time at CBS with Responsibility Day. The aim of the day is to provide them with an opportunity to reflect upon social, responsibility and ethical dilemmas, both in their new role as CBS students and in their future role as business managers. The day also sets expectations for the role that their education will play over the course of their time at CBS. One of our student organizations, oikos, hosts Green Week for one week in March where students learn more about sustainable living and working.

What have been some of the challenges?
It is always challenging when you try to create change. You meet a lot of “this is not possible” attitude or “this is how we have always done it” which can make it seem impossible to get the results. Often change starts from below, and when it comes to sustainability, this is also the case at CBS. This means that everything takes longer, because we need to mobilize stakeholders bottom up and document the impact to prove the importance. It is all about people, and therefore you need the people on board. We also need to work on improving environmental sustainability in buildings and this requires that we work across departments and facilities and collaborate with many different entities to achieve results.

What’s next for environmental sustainability at CBS?

CBS is collaborating with the Green Business Council to use CBS as a case study for the development of campuses in urban areas. We also recently launched The Sustainable Living Lab, a project that opens up campus data for students and researchers to use the campus to implement, test, research and teach sustainability. It is still in its early days but we are excited about what this could mean not just for the campus but for staff, faculty and students.

CBS Department of Management, Society and Communication is also engaging staff regularly around sustainability topics. With the Sustainable Infrastructure Taskforce, the department now wants to implement sustainable initiatives using the department as a pilot. One example is the department wide competition on ideas for how the department can become more sustainable. The winning solution was to have vegetarian meals as default for all meetings and conferences as opposed to the traditional non-vegetarian option.

A next step for the sustainable journey at CBS would be to gather more data on waste, water, energy and CO2 and set clearly communicated targets for these areas. It is a great opportunity to also track the savings you can make in the long run. The challenge is of course that budgets usually only cover short term, which can make it difficult to prove the long-term benefits.

What’s next in terms of student engagement?
In terms of engaging students, Five student organizations in collaboration with CBS PRME have come together to coordinate a 2-day hackathon inviting students from Danish universities to come to CBS and work on solutions to 4 defined sustainability challenges on campus from food waste to inequality. It is the ambition that the winning solution is to be implemented in collaboration with CBS top management and operations. The winning team will have the opportunity to present their solution at the PRME office in New York and hopefully inspire other universities to follow this path. A strong jury panel consisting of representatives from Copenhagen University, The Technical University of Denmark, CBS and representatives from private companies will judge the solutions. It is the first time that students, staff, management and partners come together to discuss the challenges and solutions for a greener campus and hopefully this will create a strong platform for future collaboration.

What advice do you have for other schools looking at campus sustainability?
It might seem as an overwhelming task, but just get started on the journey. There are ups and downs along the way, but if you keep pushing and engaging colleagues in the efforts, you will see results. Start by identifying the key stakeholders who you need to have on board to change the way you do things today.

Student Leadership in Promoting Impact Investment on Campus – IESE Business School

IESE Business School in Spain hosts an annual Impact Investing Competition as part of their Doing Good Doing Well conference. The Competition, which is now going into its 7th year, brings together teams from leading business schools across Europe. Now students at IESE are taking it one step further. They have recently come together to raise money to create the school’s first 100% student managed impact investment fund. I spoke with Luca Venza and current MBA Students Rachel Messina and Michael Davis about this initiative.

(This post is part of Impact Investing month on PRiMEtime. Click here to access more posts on Impact Investing).

What is IESE’s Impact Investing Competition and how did it come about?

The Impact Investing Competition (IIC) is a dynamic competition that guides participants through the key phases of impact investment including due diligence, term sheet development and negotiations with real-world entrepreneurs and a panel of impact investment professionals acting as the Investment Board. We ask all schools to hold internal rounds with the winner going to IESE for the final. The top business schools in Europe compete alongside top schools from Asia and often the U.S. at the IESE final round. The teams are judged by the entrepreneurs and impact investment professionals invited for the event. This competition started about 6 years ago due to the passion of IESE Professors and Students, eager to expand the understanding of Impact Investing, especially as it changes dramatically into a maturing asset class. The competition is part of our annual Doing Good and Doing Well conference which we organize annually which brings together 50+ speakers and 500+ attendees.

How is the competition organised and how do students participate?

The competition is designed to simulate the impact investment process as closely as possible within an accelerated timeframe. Each participating school first organizes an internal round to nominate the representing team for the final round, which takes place on the IESE campus. A few days in advance of the competition day, teams will receive information about the investment opportunities, which are typically 3 real impact startups identified by the competition organizing team. On the day of the event teams arrive early in the morning to prepare for a fast-paced series of simulation rounds, which are each judged by the panel of real impact investment professionals and entrepreneurs. The exact schedule may change slightly year-to-year, but generally it goes as follows: 1) entrepreneurs pitch their companies in front of all teams 2) due diligence sessions take place between each team and entrepreneurs (judged round 1) 3) teams choose which investment to make and prepare term sheets 4) teams present their term sheets and investment decision in front of the investment committee to win approval of the board (judged round 2) 5) teams negotiate terms with the entrepreneurs in front of the judges (round 3) 6) Judges vote on winning team and the day concludes with an awards ceremony and networking cocktail. 

Why do you think it is important for students to understand impact investing?

Although relatively new and still a small sector, impact investing resonates well with MBA students because they see the connection between private sector, for-profit strategies and the generation of positive social and environmental impact. More and more individuals would like to align their investment decisions with their personal values. Most importantly, many students (and professionals) want to make the world a better place while investing, and are even willing to accept a lower return. The good news is that some studies show that impact portfolios are resulting in higher returns than the average portfolio. It’s also a fun way to learn about typical Venture Capital deals which is useful for Investors and Entrepreneurs alike.  

What have been some of the successes? I would say that we have been successful in two ways. First, by bring on actual social entrepreneurs to compete in this event, we help prepare them for professional fundraising outreach. Our students have a similar skillset to most investors and highlight many of the questions that will be key for entrepreneurs to understand while raising funds. They value getting practice with our students in a “low-risk” environment. Second, the impact on students is to give them a small but practical insight to the sector to help them understand their relative value to the sector and start to network with actual investors on the Investment Board. It is still a small sector in the sense of MBA recruitment so all contact and experience helps.

Challenges?

The competition is organised by students (generally the winning team of the previous year), so it’s important to ensure good handover and transition every year. Busy MBA schedules certainly make this challenging, but the opportunity to organise such an event is a great learning experience and also provides networking opportunities for students to develop relationships with impact investment professionals. Each year student organisers aim to find new entrepreneurs to feature in the competition, and the research and sourcing process of these companies takes a significant amount of time and effort.

What’s next?

In 2017, a group of graduating students founded the school’s first impact investment vehicle, the IESE For Impact Community fund (IFIC). This year’s organising IIC team is also acting as the Board of Directors for the new IFIC fund and will be going through the first real investment process. IFIC was established for three primary reasons: one is impact, supporting businesses driven by an aim to positively impact society; the second is learning, providing hands-on and valuable experience for students; the third is to put the IESE mission into practice, in line with our school’s objective to educate leaders with the highest ethical standards. IFIC will invest in and provide consulting services for impact startups—enterprises that demonstrate that positive social and/or environmental impact is an intentional and integral part of the business model. The winning internal team of IIC will have the opportunity to act as the next year’s IFIC Board, and we believe there will be opportunities in the future to consider the IIC investment opportunities for actual investment via IFIC.

Any tips for others looking to organise a similar competition? Get in touch with the IESE organising team. We are looking for collaborators to create a global competition with regional semi-final rounds similar to the Venture Capital Competition, VCIC. Identify champions within your community, starting with your school’s faculty who should be able to share their network to invite judges and help find financial partners / sponsors.

 

Impact Investing at Business Schools – 7 Impact Investing Competitions for Students

Last week, as part of this month’s special series on impact investing, we looked at ten ways business schools are engaging their students in impact investing on campus. An eleventh way is through a range of mostly new impact investing competitions open to business students globally. These competitions, mostly based at US schools, offer students the opportunity to not only learn about impact investing but to apply this knowledge to real cases that often impact actual businesses. Here is a selection of seven such impact investing competitions either run by or with participants from PRME Signatories.

 

  • The IESE Impact Investing Competition is an all day session that simulates an investment process including entrepreneurial pitches, due diligence, term sheet preparation and investment committee meetings, followed by intense negotiations with the entrepreneur of their choice. The event happens annually as part of the Doing Good Doing Well Competition at IESE’s campus in Spain. Participants this year included CEIBS, Cranfield School of Management and IE Business School.

 

  • UBC Sauder School of Business hosted the National Strategy Consulting and Conference event that brought students from across Canada and the United States to compete on an impact investing case based on Brighter Investment, a social venture supported by the Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing. Competitors were judged based on their strategy recommendations, as well asthe potential social impact their recommendations would yield. Students across different disciplines were challenged to integrate their financial, marketing and impact measurement skills into a coherent strategy for a social enterprise.

 

 

  • Duke University was one of the schools that recently participated in the Invest for Impact Competition, hosted by UNC Kenan-Flagler in the US. The invitation-only Competition is an experience that includes a wide variety of challenges that bring together top MBA students, sustainable entrepreneurs and successful impact investors, who have an opportunity to learn from and network with each other. Student teams from around the world play the role of impact investors and review business plans of three companies and select the ones they would invest in based off of both financial viability and their social and environmental impact.

 

  • INSEAD in France and Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada both take part in the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT). MIINT is an experiential lab designed to give business students knowledge and skills around impact investing. MBA students create teams at the start of the academic year and identify an impact company that they will focus on during the programme. They then present recommendations to a judging committee composed of industry leaders for a potential investment of up to $50,000 in the companies that they chose to represent during the process.

 

  • Cornell University was one of the finalists in the first Impact Investing in Commercial Real Estate Competition hosted by the University of Miami School of Business Administrations in the US. The Competition focuses on investments made in commercial real estate projects with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside an appropriate financial return. The competition takes place yearly in the US and is open to teams of business schools globally.

 

  • Lagos Business School in Nigeria organised its Impact Investing Competition in 2016 as part of the Lagos Business School MBA Entrepreneurship Investors Forum. The Forum is a new initiative introduced by students as part of their entrepreneurship course and coordinated by Dr Henrietta Onsuegbuzie, Impact Investing Project Director at the school. During the event, students present business ideas that bridge the gap between economic growth and lagging social development through profitable businesses that solve social problems. Judges are post MBA students who are currently working in this field or have developed businesses that have a social impact.

Impact Investing Series – 10 Ways Schools are Bringing Impact Investing to Campus

Tsinghua University Net Impact event on Impact Investing

This month PRiMEtime is focusing in on the important and increasingly popular topic of impact investing. So far we have looked at what impact investing is and summed up a range of resources on the topic and have looked in depth at the Social Finance Academy, a new programme coming from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Canada.

There are a number of ways that business schools are bringing impact investing to campus. Here we look at ten ways that business schools are specifically engaging students in impact investing on campus.

1. Events that bring impact investing actors onto campus to discuss the state of the industry: The University of St. Gallen in Switzerland organises an Impact Investing and Social Finance Conference. For its first three years the event was held in Sao Paulo and focused on Latin America, but has since moved to the St. Gallen campus in Switzerland. The event brings together impact investing practitioners to meet and discuss with students. The business school also offers students the course Impact Investing 2.0: Building the Impact Economy, a course focused on the fundamental context for impact investing and its requirements, that aims to train students to be able to spot impact investing opportunities.

2. Student engagement through clubs: The Net Impact Club at Tsinghua University in China organised a special session on impact investing for students, inviting experts and practitioners to campus to share their knowledge with students. The University has also recently partnered with UNDP and other leading universities to develop a research agenda around impact investing that will better leverage private investment to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes undertaking research to improve the analytical frameworks, evidence, and policy environment that encourage and guide commercial capital flows in support of the SDGs.

3. Funds for students to invest: The Haas Social Impact Fund at Haas School of Business University of California Berkeley is the largest of the student-managed socially-responsible investments funds with more than USD$2.5m of assets under management. Student fund managers are chosen yearly from the business programmes to evaluate investment opportunities by analysing traditional indicators of business quality and valuation metrics along with environmental, social, and governance policies and practices. Students that participate also have the opportunity to receive a certificate in Social Investing upon graduation.

4. Selecting MBA students to be Impact Investing Fellows: SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University’s Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellows Programme aims to train students for emerging opportunities at the intersection of sustainability and finance, including project finance that addresses climate change, ecosystem services, and poverty alleviation. Through a series of courses, coupled with applied projects, Fellows learn how to invest in, manage, or regulate businesses or projects seeking financial, environmental and social goals.

5. Engaging students in consulting projects with business: Duke Fuqua School of Business’s CASE i3 Fellows are selected second year MBA students who complete coursework in impact investing, support the centre’s research and operations, and complete a consulting project and apprenticeship. The fellows work with a broader set of CASE i3 Associates, often first year students, in teams for their Consulting Programme which pairs students with leading organisations on impact investing projects, including developing impact due diligence guidelines for investors, doing market analysis, and investment landscaping.

6. A selection of elective courses focused on impact investing: Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Canada offers a course on Impact Investing: Social Finance in the 21st This course provides an introduction to the impact investment sector. It describes the evolution of impact investment, the growth of new asset classes, and the opportunities and challenges faced
by investors seeking meaningful impact investment vehicles. Through a combination of readings, discussions, guest lectures, research, a pitch competition and a portfolio allocation project, students will gain deep insight into the different perspectives brought by the impact investor who is concerned with stimulating social and environmental impact while generating financial return.

7. Providing a regional focus: The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town offers a course on impact investing in Africa aimed at wealth managers, consultants, funders, lawyers and other financial intermediaries looking to gain an understanding of the field. The workshop is (next sentence addresses them) led by a diverse group of leading experts in the field. They have also collaborated with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford to create twelve teaching case studies on impact investment in Africa.

8. Creating MOOCs on impact investing: ESSEC offers a MOOC (‘Massive Open Online Course’ – a type of free online course) about impact investment available in French. The course explores what impact investing is, which companies are involved and what are they investing in, what kinds of solutions are proposed and the ingredients necessary to create a favourable impact investing ecosystem in the north and the south. The latest offering of the course started on September 25th, 2017.

9. Creating new courses aimed at an executive audience: The Fundamentals on Venture Philanthropy and Impact Investing  at ESADE Business & Law School is a new executive education programme aimed at providing managers with effective tools for a high-engagement approach to social investing and grant making across a range of industries. The course combines online learning materials with two days of face-to-face interaction at ESADE’s campus in Barcelona with leading lecturers and practitioners. The programme is taught jointly with the European Venture Philanthropy Association, a network of 2010 investment firms, banks, business schools and other organisations committed to creating positive societal impact.

10. Pushing Impact Investing forward through Research: The Impact Investing Lab at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy focuses on scalable business models that can create economic and social value through innovation in products, services, and processes. The lab acts as a platform and point of reference at a national and international level to support the development of impact investing as a new asset class able to attract public and private capital. It generates research, organises seminars and workshops, and contributes to the spread of a culture and a knowledge of impact investing.

Student Run Sustainability Events as part of the Core Curriculum – University of Greenwich Business School

Every year the University of Greenwich Business School hosts a full day conference in May which is themed, organised and delivered by the current cohort of full-time Executive MBA students. Unlike many other similar events at other business schools, this one is a key part of the students’ curriculum.

I spoke with Petros Ieromonachou, Head of Systems Management and Strategy and Director of Connected Cities Research Group at the University of Greenwich Business School in the UK, about this student led event.

What is the Executive Business Conference?

For the 13th year running, the University of Greenwich Executive MBA students held a Business Conference to present and discuss global issues/trends and current business topics. To come up with the business conference theme the MBA students brainstormed several ideas concerning today’s business environment. Topics such as sustainability, globalisation and technology frequently appeared as hot topics for discussion. Looking at recent changes in politics such as the proposed Brexit and the US elections, students realised that they are living in an uncertain world that is not easily predictable and changes are becoming more rapid. These changes bear opportunities and threats for businesses and are important considerations for Responsible Leadership. It was important to all MBA students that the business conference theme should evolve around these topics.

How is the event organised?

The event is completely organised by the current cohort of full-time Executive MBA students as well as those studying the second year part-time Executive MBA programme. The students appoint a conference committee, decide on the conference title and theme and organise all of the marketing and logistics over a three-month period. The students also invite and coordinate presenters for the conference as well as develop their own presentations around the topic to be delivered at the event.

How is the event embedded into the curriculum?

The University of Greenwich Business Conference is integrated into the MBA programme as a core component which serves to build on each student’s leadership and professional development. It is a side-event of the Leadership and Professional Development course. Apart from being part of the organising committee, all students in the programme need to present. Students are also expected to provide a written reflective report on their learning and professional development as a result of the experience which is graded.

Tell us about this year’s event

After much thinking, the Greenwich MBA students choose the theme “Shaping business opportunities in a world of uncertainty.” The business conference took place on March 11th 2017 at the University of Greenwich in London. Full and part time Greenwich MBA students as well as guest speakers from industry and academia presented. Keynote speeches were given by Professor Victor Newman – an Industrial Fellow at the University of Greenwich Business School, Chief Innovation Officer at the Milamber Group, and Innovation Adviser to Erisa together with Peter Bonish- Chairman of Kage Strategy.

MBA student presentations topics included: ‘The future of energy markets’, ‘Is there a sustainable future for small charities?’ ‘Is the future sharing?’ and ‘The future of solar energy in Saudi Arabia.’ Most of the MBA students presented a topic that was closely related to their professional career or a business they want to pursue. This gave students an opportunity to put together a professional presentation and present it to academics, professionals, and other students of the business school. Also, during the breaks and the networking event there were opportunities to receive feedback, giving the MBA students different ways of thinking about their business ideas and subjects.

How has the experience been received by the students?

One of the key skills needed by executives is ‘communication’. Together with ‘creativity’ and ‘project management’ the Business conference allows students the opportunity to showcase these abilities in front of a wide audience of business professionals and academics. Layla Mohammad, one of the MBA students reported: “By being a member of the conference committee who organised and co-ordinated the whole event, I watched the MBA students form their ideas, practice weekly and professionally present on the day. It was amazing to see how MBA students that started from thinking they could not put together an interesting topic or present confidently on their own, to delivering some of the most captivating and professionally delivered presentations I have ever experienced.”

Each year students remark on how they have developed as a result of this experience. Often, students remark “I now know what you meant at the induction when you said I would be a different person by the end of the MBA“.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

Start early, hand over the responsibility for success to the students and provide continuous mentoring and support to help them realise their capacity and skills as well as future responsibilities in the ever-changing world of business.

What’s next for the initiative?

The department and programme leader are considering extending the business conference to other post graduate programmes and organising a faculty wide conference with different break-out sessions focusing on a variety of themes.

Engaging Students in the Reporting Process – an example from KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business

A number of Sharing Information on Progress reports were recognized at the PRME Global Forum in New York this past July. The nine reports that were highlighted show only a snapshot of all of the interesting approaches to reporting that are coming from the PRME Signatories globally. Another interesting approach comes from KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business (KU Leuven FEB) in Belgium. Their report, which was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative standards, includes a materiality matrix which was prepared by students across a number of Masters level courses. I spoke with Talia Stough, Sustainability Coordinator at KEB, about this unique approach.

What is your materiality index and why did you decide to do one?

The KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Management engages in the process of sustainability reporting in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI standards provide high-level guidance to help organizations identify and prioritize sustainability-related topics for reporting and communicating. Organizations consider their main sustainability impacts and, in dialogue with their stakeholders, prioritize topics onto a materiality matrix. The results can be visualized on a materiality matrix, which displays issues of increasing materiality to the organization on one axis and to stakeholder on the other axis, where the highest priority issues are located in the upper right section of the chart.

How were students engaged in the process?

In-class stakeholder engagement activities were carried out in the courses Corporate Social Responsibility (available to students of: the Masters of Business Administration; Master of Business Engineering; Master of Environment, Health, and Safety Management; and the Master of International Business Economics and Management programs) and the course Strategic Management: Execution and Control (Master of Business Administration) to identify material topics to student stakeholders.

In the course Corporate Social Responsibility, following a lecture on sustainability reporting and the methodology of the GRI and a short overview of the faculty’s sustainability initiatives, students worked in small groups to discuss which sustainability-related topics they considered most important for the faculty (and greater university) to work on. Students were given a simplified list of GRI topics, augmented with education and research-related indicators from AASHE’s STARS criteria. As a small group, they rated each topic as low, medium, or high priority. Each group also identified its top three topics. Afterwards, there was a group discussion with the whole class on which topics were most material and why.

A group of master students have been assigned to work on stakeholder engagement in their course Sustainable Management. This group of students assisted in the in-class engagement exercise in the Corporate Social Responsibility course, were given material from the exercise to analyze, and developed their own extra-curricular engagement.

How was this input used in the materiality index?

The results of the in-class activity were analyzed by the Faculty Sustainability Coordinator as follows: individual group responses were given a score of 1, 2, or 3 to each topic depending on the response of “low materiality”, “medium materiality”, or “high materiality” respectively. Topics were then categorized as low, medium, or high materiality based the weighted average score. One new topic was proposed during the in-class engagement exercise: impact of cafeteria operations. Since we have no other input on the materiality of this topic, we will need to include this topic in future engagement exercises to collect more information on its cumulative importance to stakeholder.

The content from the activity was analyzed by the Sustainable Management students using qualitative content analysis. Although the results of this were not included in the 2016 materiality index but they have been integrated into our 2017 Sustainability Report.

How was it involving students in the reporting process?

The KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business embraces the ideology of utilizing the campus as a living laboratory in sustainability integration. While involving students in stakeholder engagement activities and the sustainability reporting process can be a labor-intensive process (students are not yet experts on the GRI or the topics included in the standard), the potential for two-way learning makes the involvement of students worthwhile, especially in the case of stakeholder engagement.

In-class stakeholder engagement exercises ensure the participation of students in sustainability engagement processes. In our experience, voluntary, extracurricular engagement activities are not well attended, so conducting engagement activities in class helps overcome that barrier. It also offers a manner to communicate about the sustainability initiatives to students who may otherwise not become aware of such activities.

In both capacities (students leading and participating in engagement activities), time is always challenging. In the course Sustainable Management, students have one semester to understand a topic (in this case stakeholder engagement), the faculty’s approach to this topic, and to develop and analyze activities. In the case of the in-class engagement activity, after the introductory lecture on sustainability reporting and materiality, there is only one hour remaining for the engagement activity and discussion. The engagement activity is then analyzed and the results are presented by the lecturer at a later class.

Where there any surprises? Anything you would have done differently?

This is our fourth year doing such activities (both the in-class engagement and the use of master students in the reporting process). Each year, we reflect on the successes and room for improvement and adapt the activity. Last year, I was not able to attend the Corporate Social Responsibility course in person, so I created an online survey for students to rank the materiality of topics on their own. This actually produced more interesting cumulative results, and we plan to re-integrate this back into the activity next year. The idea for next year will be to have students rank the materiality of topics online on their own, then in-class have group discussions on ranking these as a group.

Utilizing the master students in the preparation of the sustainability report is something we believe strongly we should do, but many challenges arise. In the past, we broke students into groups based on sections of the report: economic, environmental, social, education, etc. We found that this resulted in an overwhelming assignment for the students and group work that lacked new analysis. Now we focus group work on themes (based on material topics from past materiality prioritization). Before the semester, the sustainability coordinator contacts internal people responsible for data management on the topic to ensure that data will be available for students (in the past is was difficult to ensure students had timely access to the information their requested; some data required quite some time to generate from the SAP). By working on less topics, the depth of the group work has increased.

Any tips for other schools looking to get their students engaged in their reporting process?

Including students in the reporting process can foster fruitful two-way learning. Students bring energy and fresh perspective into sustainability reporting. One semester is a relatively short timeframe for students to become familiar with the reporting process, the GRI standards, the topic they are working on (e.g. stakeholder engagement, diversity in the workforce, environmental performance, sustainable purchasing, etc.), and to then make a new contribution to the reporting process. This means that there is a relatively high time input for the sustainability coordinator, but limited useable output for the sustainability report. Another option, that we will be exploring more in the future, is the use of master thesis on topics in the sustainability report. This would allow a longer timeframe for a student to go more in depth into a topic, but limits the number of students involved.

What has been the impact of the index?

Based on previous year’s in-class engagement activities, it was identified that students highly prioritize anti-discrimination because there were incidents of students feeling uncomfortable/discriminated against. However, there were very low rates of reporting such incidents. Therefore, based on the in-class engagement activities, we know there is a gap in student experience and formal procedures to report and document discrimination.

Based on the 2017 in-class engagement activity, the topic of: impact of cafeteria operations was identified as a unique topic. This is in line with a common trend we find in that students (and staff) tend to give more priority to tangible topics that they often come in contact with (e.g. paper, heating of the buildings, etc.).

What’s next?

What’s next is the preparation of the Faculty’s 2017 sustainability report (intended to be completed and published online September 2017). Next year, we will open the topic of stakeholder engagement for sustainability at the faculty up as a master thesis topic for our students (max. 2) to work on. We will continue to keep our eye on gender balance based on the high priority this topic receives from the organization (our own gender policy) and student and staff stakeholders. We will continue to use the sustainability reporting process (including stakeholder engagement activities) as a living laboratory activity and include students in this activity. Eventually, we would like to incorporate external stakeholder input in the future, but this remains a challenging task to approach in a systematic and meaningful way. We would also like to engage with other reporting higher education institutions to share experiences with reporting and using the reporting process as a living laboratory activity.

Integration Programmes for Asylum Seekers – Hanken School of Economics

In September 2015, The Principles for Responsible Management Education Secretariat issued a call to action to business schools and management-related Higher Education Institutions in response to the refugee crisis. Over sixty million people have been displaced by conflict. Although the primary responsibility for peace rests with Governments, the urgency of the global refugee crisis is a challenge that requires support from all actors in society on a short-, mid- and long-term basis.

Business Schools have been stepping up, responding to this call to action with a range of new initiatives and programmes. At Hanken School of Economics in Finland, several new initiatives were put in place that target educated asylum seekers and immigrants including, but not limited to, the Business Lead Programme and a Finnish Business Culture course. As Nikodemus Solitander, Director of the Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Hanken puts it, “the issues pertaining to displaced people have been visible for a long time, if anything academia at large, including our own institution, has been slow to react. I would be interested to see what kind of institutions can say they are not affected by this.” I recently spoke with him to learn more about their initiatives in this space.

Why did Hanken choose to engage in this topic?

The way the question of integration of asylum seekers gained strategic priority at Hanken is very clearly traced to the e-mail we received from Jonas Haertle from the PRME Secretariat in September 2015 containing the “Call to Action – Mobilizing Academic Community Action in Response to the Refugee Crisis”. Of course, there had been informal talks about the situation and Hanken’s possibilities to contribute prior as well. Hanken hosts the Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute (HUMLOG Institute), which has at its aim“to research the area of humanitarian logistics in disaster preparedness, response and recovery with the intention of influencing future activities in a way that will provide measurable benefits to persons requiring assistance”. But in the Call for Action, we saw a possibility for an impetus, a strategic lever, to come up with something concrete and execute it.

What was the result?

In October 2015 Hanken formed a working group to think about possible action and to form a pledge in relation to the call, the most tangible outcome from this was to create a course, Finnish Business Culture, a 2-day live learning course that is geared towards a larger group of asylum seekers who have a high school diploma. The aim of that course was to provide the participants a general overview of factors influencing business operations in Finland (history, political, legal and economic systems, culture), in particular, the operations of companies.

At the same time, but separately Hanken & SSE Executive Education had triggered their own planning processes, largely inspired by ideas around corporate responsibility they got by visiting Slush, an international startup and investor event organized annually in Helsinki. They were able to develop and roll out the plans very quickly; it was rolled out in February 2016, and the programme started in June 2016. Hanken together with the Finnish mobile company Funzi is a partner in the programme, but all delivery and planning have been carried out by Hanken & SSE Executive Education.

What happens in the mes?

The aim of the Business Lead is an integration programme for educated asylum seekers, geared for creating value for both the asylum seekers themselves and for Finnish business in general. It is a joint venture between Hanken School of Economics and Stockholm School of Economics. The programme aims to introduce and integrate educated asylum seekers into Finnish working life. It consists of four live modules delivered over 7 days in total addressing the Finnish and European business landscape and organizational culture, strategic leadership, finance and sales and service mindset. The participants in the programme also had access to a mobile learning service developed by Funzi and will have the opportunity to take part in Entry Point Mentoring arranged by the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce. The programme ends with a two-month internship in a Finnish company.

The Finnish Business Culture course is an intense two-day programme which focuses on business legislation, Finnish consumer behavior, marketing to Finns, Finnish negotiation style and management styles, and hands-on guidelines on how to establish a company in Finland.

What kind of interest was there?

The Business Lead Programme is targeted towards educated asylum seekers who already have a Higher education degree, speak fluent English and have been working within the business sector or have been an entrepreneur for at least two years. Candidates for the programme were identified through different stakeholders: service centres, Red Cross and Start-Up Refugees project. 64 asylum seekers (also some with resident status) applied to take part in the programme. Applications were received from candidates of 13 different nationalities, with the majority hailing from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Having fit programme criteria and gone through the application process, 38 (of which 6 were women) educated asylum seekers were offered a place in the programme.

The Finnish Business Culture course had 12 asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea. Most participants in the Business Lead Programme and Finnish Business Culture Course were well-educated with an engineering background – IT and Civil engineers, some also had accounting and business background.

What kind of interest are companies showing (for internships etc. or engaging in other ways?)

The initiative was well received and raised immense interest among companies in Finland. The programme partners in Business Lead, who offered internships as part of the programme, are Accenture, Agency Leroy, Ajatar, Amcham Finland, Camaleonte, Dazzle, Elisa, EY, Etera, Federation of Finnish Financial Services, Fennovoima, Fingrid, Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, Folksam, Fortum, Hanken & SSE Executive Education, HUMLOG / Hanken, IBM Finland, Iwa Labs, Juuriharja Consulting Group, Kallio Elementary School, Kone, Konecranes, Lumi Accessories, LähiTapiola, Microsoft, Miltton, Nokia, Ramirent, Roschier, Seedi, SOK, SOL Palvelut, Supercell, Elo, Valmet, Varma, Virala, Wapice, and Wärtsilä.

Upon completion of the programme and internships, around 25% of the asylum seekers who participated were offered employment or continuation of traineeship by various companies (as stated before) which had participated in the internship programme.

Do these students engage within the rest of the business school/other programmes?

Not much to be honest. My personal opinion is that I think several people attached to this have had a wake-up call about the ‘realpolitik’ of ventures that are not historically planned to be attached to the curriculum or initiatives that can be seen to be innovative and different. I think it is evident that there are possibilities for great journeys of learning between the student populations. But, amidst this critique it needs to be said that unlike most other institutions at least the structural barriers were low enough to execute the idea, and I think everyone involved should feel very proud of the venture insofar!

What other projects is Hanken working on?

Hanken has been working on some collaborative projects along with PRME Champions group and locally at the Nordic level, most notably being the Nordic Ph.D. course and the upcoming 5th CR3+ conference.

 

For the month of June Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Equality and Diversity (SDG 10). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.

 

%d bloggers like this: