Students Driving the Reporting Process – Boise State University (part 2 of 2)

At the 2017 Global Forum for Responsible Management Education, several Signatories were recognized for their efforts in reporting. The reports that received recognition represent different approaches to reporting on progress against the Six Principles of PRME. One of the Schools to receive recognition in the First Time Reporters category was the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University (COBE) in the USA. But what makes this impressive report unique is that the whole process of putting together the report was lead by student volunteers.

This is the second part of a two part interview with former MBA Student, Graduate Assistant and Sustainability Report Project Lead Taylor Reed about their report. Click here to read part 1.

What impact does this kind of experience have on the students involved?

The experience was challenging and meaningful. The best way I can describe the reporting process in the first year is driving a car down the road while also building it. At least four of the members of the team now work in industries related to sustainability, and I’m confident that all of the graduates are now working in roles where they have to perform research, synthesize and communicate information, or develop buy-in from colleagues, consumers or business partners—these are all skills team members were able to develop by participating in this project.

One of the most valuable lessons that came from this process wasn’t necessarily the data gathered, but rather the conversations that arose throughout the research process. Many students were frustrated that key metrics like the amount of waste generated or carbon footprint did not yet exist. However, by meeting with campus officials, discussing their purpose in creating a sustainability report, and posing questions related to sustainability, students were able to begin to educate campus staff and faculty and empower employees to begin considering social and environmental impacts. Those initial conversations helped build a foundation for the development of systems to capture improved sustainability data.

What were some of the successes?

Three years later the college continues to produce an annual sustainability report and our efforts have inspired Boise State University’s College of Health Sciences and the Student Union Building to publish their first sustainability reports. The reports have driven sustainability achievements such as more sustainable procurement policies, the installation of solar panels, the college’s strategy for inclusive excellence and a taskforce focused on increased inclusion, and increased awareness of environmental and social issues across campus. And of course we were thrilled to receive recognition from the PRME for our work!

The final piece of the report presents sustainability recommendations for the Dean and Associate Deans to consider. After COBE’s leadership deliberates and discusses strategies with student reporters, many of the recommendations are implemented over time. This part is especially meaningful because it’s where the research and analysis performed by students becomes actionable and translates to social and environmental impact—that’s the best part in my opinion.

Why should schools engage their students in the reporting process?

According to the Deloitte 2016 Millennial Survey, 87 percent of millennials believe that “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.” Millennials judge the performance of a business on what it does and how it treats people— both of which are data points in COBE’s sustainability reports. More than 60% of millennials believe businesses achieve long-term success by putting employees first, and developing a solid foundation of trust and integrity. Finally, millennials choose employers whose values reflect their own— 56 percent of Millennials have “ruled out ever working for an organisation because of its values or standard of conduct.”

Projects like the sustainability report are the secret sauce to motivating, developing, and retaining millennial employees. By producing a sustainability report COBE achieved all of the following:

  1. Creating a healthy culture that exists to achieve more than financial results
  2. Identifying the values of students and providing an opportunity to practice those values in their profession
  3. Providing hands-on opportunities for millennials to take on leadership roles and gain critical thinking skills that will make them more competitive in the job market and equip them with the skills needed to effect real change

What advice do you have for other schools looking to engage students in the reporting process?

Do it. If schools think that tomorrow’s leaders should understand the social and environmental impact of their business decisions, and take responsibility for them, then students must learn these skills and have the opportunity to practice them.

Create a safe space for students to fail—if they do, coach them through the steps needed to get back on track. When they’re faced with a similar scenario in upon graduation they’ll know how to succeed.

What’s next? Any plans for the next report? Things you will be doing differently?

This fall, students of Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics (COBE) will publish the College’s third sustainability report measuring the social, environmental and economic impacts of the College (we produce reports annually). Student reporters continue to implement recommendations made in the College’s first two reports, and continue to develop new targets based on the feedback of internal and external stakeholders. In line with COBE’s sustainability initiatives, student reporters have transitioned to an interactive online format, rather than a printed report. We have a collective aspiration to produce a university-wide sustainability report in the near future.

 

A few highlights of the report:

  • A summary of percentage of responsible business faculty research organised by department (p. 26)
  • An overview of the new College of Business and Economics Building, built in 2012, designed to have minimal environmental impact and maximum environmental efficiency (p.42).
  • An overview of how they assessed materiality and what their material issues are, organised by stakeholder group (page 49)
  • A detailed timeline and process map for the sustainability report (p. 50)

Students Driving the Reporting Process – Boise State University (part 1 of 2)

At the 2017 Global Forum for Responsible Management Education, several Signatories were recognized for their efforts in reporting. The reports that received recognition represent different approaches to reporting on progress against the Six Principles of PRME. One of the Schools to receive recognition in the First Time Reporters category was the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University (COBE) in the USA. But what makes this impressive report unique is that the whole process of putting together the report was lead by student volunteers.

I recently spoke with former MBA Student, Graduate Assistant and Sustainability Report Project Lead Taylor Reed about their report.

What was the driver behind the Sustainability Report?

In 2014, COBE underwent a strategic planning process to establish the collective values that ground the work done at the College. These values—relevance, respect, and responsibility—are not truly lived if we don’t measure, analyse and publicly report the results. A sustainability report, which covers issues such as climate change, health & wellness, community engagement, and transparency, helps us live those values rather than simply posting them on a webpage. The annual report serves as a thermometer for how the college is doing in terms of living its values and creating a healthy culture for students, faculty, staff and the broader community.

COBE firmly believes that sustainability reporting is a best practice, so before engaging its business community partners to pursue this type of analysis, the College needed to get some skin in the game and develop its own expertise. Producing the COBE report allowed the College to gain empathy and discover the challenges and opportunities that arise from this practice.

Why involve students in the reporting process?

The College recognised that if it identified sustainability reporting as a best practice, COBE graduates should not only be familiar with sustainability reporting, but have firsthand experience in creating one. COBE is one of only a handful of colleges and universities globally to integrate students fully into the management, research, writing and publication of its sustainability report. The students that participated on the reporting team did so as a volunteers.

How was the report produced?

The reporting process was broken up into five phases:

  • Focus: In the first phase of the project the team of student reporters engaged three stakeholder groups (students, college faculty/administrators, and community business leaders) to define the college’s material issues.
  • Coordinate: Next, the topics found to be material in the Focus phase were assigned to student reporters. I purposefully matched topics with students’ interests or area of study. For example, equal remuneration was assigned to a student studying human resources.
  • Research: Team members then gathered quantitative and qualitative research across departments through a series of interviews and collaboration with faculty and staff to gather data.
  • Synthesize & Write: In this phase of the project, students synthesized and analyzed collected data and collectively outlined a rough draft of the report. A majority of the writing and revising was done by a few individuals to maintain style and tone throughout the report.
  • Review & Publish: In the final phase of the project students worked with relevant stakeholders such as sources and key administrators to revise and finalise the report. In addition, the college’s first report was audited by a team of graduate students studying accounting. Finally, the team’s leadership worked with an external firm to design and publish the report.

What were some of the challenges? 

Finding answers to all of our research questions was our main challenge. We found that the systems for collecting much of the data we were seeking did not yet exist (i.e. waste metrics). Another challenge was developing buy-in from data sources—some of our sources found it challenging to make time to fulfill our data requests, or didn’t understand the concept of sustainability reporting.

This was a volunteer project that many students took on in addition to part-time jobs, rigorous coursework, and other demanding activities. Given these circumstances, there were times when responsibilities such as enforcing deadlines and motivating team members was difficult. However, the lessons learned during production of the first report helped facilitate smoother operations in year two.

How was your experience using the GRI framework (especially since it isn’t specifically geared towards education?). Any tips for others looking at using these in their report?

Using the GRI G4 guidelines helped build our team’s awareness and understanding of the concept of materiality, along with a variety of social, environmental and economic metrics. GRI isn’t geared towards educational institutions, however its focus on materiality helped inform our process. The team performed several stakeholder engagement sessions to pinpoint material issues, such as rising tuitions costs and sustainability curriculum—topics that may not have been identified in the GRI framework. It also served as a useful source to cross check that our stakeholders weren’t forgetting any fundamental issues.

GRI also helped the team identify leaders in nonfinancial disclosure—seeing these examples helped us better understand nonfinancial reporting and frame expectations. Although the framework wasn’t a perfect fit for our industry, it was useful for students to gain experience using this framework, especially as it continues to be recognised as one of the highest standards of nonfinancial disclosure.

 

(Part 2 will be posted on Thursday)

 

12 Visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report (Part 2 of 2)

Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports, beyond being a requirement for PRME signatories, are an opportunity to bring together the work a school is doing in the area of responsible management education, reflect on that work and explore future opportunities. SIPs can provide an important communication tool to raise awareness both internally and externally about your initiatives. Using visuals in your report is one way to bring the information contained within your report to life, to make it easier for your stakeholders to navigate, understand, engage in, and to take action on. To inspire your next SIP report, here are 6 more visuals taken from recent SIP reports (see Part 1 for the first 6 visuals). These examples are intended to be an exploration of the different approaches taken from different schools. For more examples you can browse through all of the SIP reports on the PRME website.

INCAE in Costa Rica publishes a sustainability dashboard which tracks their consumption and sustainability initiatives on campus over the years, starting in 2010. This includes electricity, solid waste, water, purchasing and a number of other environmental actions on campus.

HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences in Finland have produced a one page report based on an infographic summary for their letter of commitment which very briefly outlines some statistics relating to their engagement in PRME as well as a few goals moving forward.

 

Hult International Business School provides a visual overview of the proportion of compulsory courses where learning objectives include explicit reference to ethics, responsibility and sustainability across all programmes offered by the school.

Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business in the Philippines provides an illustration of how the university intends to address the sustainability challenges of the 21st century through actions directed towards self, school and society, visually bringing to life the school’s strategy in this area.

The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town in South Africa has a range of special features on current and past students actively engaged in PRME related topics both within the university but in particular externally in the community, within government and companies.

The University of Western Australia conducted a sustainability audit in early 2015. This visual shows the key energy and waste management results of part of this audit as well as the financial and environmental benefits possible if each parameter is improved by 100%.

12 Visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report (Part 1 of 2)

Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports, beyond being a requirement for PRME signatories, are an opportunity to bring together the work a school is doing in the area of responsible management education, reflect on that work and explore future opportunities. SIPs can provide an important communication tool to raise awareness both internally and externally about your initiatives. Using visuals in your report is one way to bring the information contained within your report to life, to make it easier for your stakeholders to navigate, understand, engage in, and to take action on. To inspire your next SIP report, here are 12 visuals (in two parts) taken from recent SIP reports. These examples are intended to be an exploration of the different approaches taken from different schools. For more examples you can browse through all of the SIP reports on the PRME website.

 

Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria in Canada has been working steadily to measure and reduce its carbon footprint. Over the past few years they have put in place new systems for data collection to ensure more accurate measurements for the various sources of emissions related to the school’s operations. They publish an annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report for Gustavson, prepared by Synergy Enterprises, one of many sustainability-oriented companies founded by former University of Victoria students.

Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa has a series of illustrations created to capture the school’s ongoing commitment to the principles of PRME. The first explores GIBS’s engagement through its people, the second its impact on its community and globally and the third innovation that it is fostering.

 

The MBA office at Reykjavik University Business School in Iceland interviewed all teachers in the MBA programme in order to map the extent to which a focus on ethics was built into each course. This showed that nine courses out of twelve have CSR or business ethics elements in them. Of the nine, three put a great deal of emphasis on the subject as can be seen in the syllabus mapping.

Copenhagen Business School in Denmark provides a snapshot of different sustainability related research projects. They also include a picture, the name and contact details for those responsible for each project, making it easy to find out where you can find out more information about their projects, whether you are a member of the community or not.

 

Material issues for KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business in Belgium are displayed in the materiality matrix. These issues are categorized based on their ascending relevance to stakeholders (based on engagement activities) and the organization (based on the school’s vision, mission, values, and strategy). The most material sustainability issues are education and research that address sustainability topics, as well as the promotion of diversity/non-discrimination with an emphasis on gender equality.

 


Hanken School of Economics
in Finland uses tables such as this one throughout their report to outline goals from previous reports, progress made on those goals and to lay out future goals. Here they also address any delays or challenges to reaching set goals.

2016 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 1)

It is once again it’s time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2016 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. PRiMEtime provides an extensive and growing database of examples from schools around the world on how to embed sustainability, ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education as well as tips on how to move forward.

This year, 60 new articles were posted featuring over 143 examples from more than 65 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review the examples featured this year, organized roughly around the SDGs, and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click on the links to read the full article).

SDG1SDG2SDG3The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has developed an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Business School and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, call the Wellness Clinic. It provides preventive care programmes designed, promoted, administered and implemented by students. IEDC-Bled School of Management partnered with members of the UN Global Compact Local Slovenia to organize workshops around the theme of “Health promotion in the workplace as part of the corporate social responsibility and sustainable business development’.

For one week in March, EADA Business School’s campus transforms into a model refugee course where students taking the Managing Humanitarian Emergencies elective learn about the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies and extreme situations in general.

 

SDG4

La Trobe Business School (Australia), ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) founded CR3+ Network, a new program that provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the four schools to work together to build capacity in responsible management education. In the USA, Western Michigan University (USA) partnered with Christ University in Bagalore in India to create an experiential experience to engage students in sustainability discussions in India. Reutlingen University in Germany shared their experiences with the Ethikum Certificate awarded to students who complete a number of special experiences and courses during their time at university. Hult International Business School shared their experiences integrating the SDGs into the core Business and Global Society course. Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School also shared their experiences integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into their PRME Sharing Information on Progress Report. The University of St. Gallen and oikos work together to offer the PhD Fellowship Programme, a unique opportunity to support international PhD students writing their thesis on sustainability in economics or management.

PRiMEtime also explored a range of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic. A series of posts provided an overview of the MOOCs available in the Spring (Part 1 and Part 2) and summer (Part 1 and Part 2).

 

SDG5

The American University of Beirut’s University for Senior Programme aims to redefine the role of older people in society by providing them opportunities to remain intellectually challenged and socially connected through a range of lectures, study groups, educational travel programmes, campus life and intergenerational activities. The American University of Beirut also paired up with Citi to provide crucial support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in Lebanon and the MENA region with the goal of increasing their numbers significantly. Altis Postgraduate School of Business and Society in Italy introduced us to E4Impact, a special programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainability sector in their country.

 

SDG6SDG7

Ryerson University (Canada) designed a unique interdisciplinary programme that brings together faculty from all of the university’s six department called the Environmental Applied Science and Management (EnSciMan) with a focus on environmental management. In Italy, the University of Bologna’s Launch Pad aims to leverage the know-how of the hundreds of PhDs and post-docs studying at the university to facilitate its transformation into valuable products and services, many focused on social and environmental topics. PRiMEtime also looked at a range of global student networks engaged in sustainability that are active within and across business schools.

 

SDG8

Antwerp Management School’s ID@Work research programme aims to support organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience at the University of Wollongong is an educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. Also in Australia, Deakin University has been exploring how to encourage and train more Indigenous Australians to become accountants (currently of the more than 180,000 Australian professional accounting body members, only 30 identify as Indigenous). The Northwest Aboriginal Canadians Entrepreneurs Programme at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business is a partnership between several organisations including regional and provision government to offer first class entrepreneurial learning to the Indigenous people of Northwest British Columbia with the aim to enhance the self sufficiency and full economic participation of Indigenous people

Management Education and the United Nations

As an initiative established by the United Nations, PRME provides a range of opportunities for signatories to engage with a range of programmes throughout the UN system. This includes the wider “UN family” made up of the UN and its many affiliated programmes (e.g. UNDP, UNEP), funds (e.g. UNICEF), and specialised agencies (e.g. ILO, IMF, World Bank) each working on a different subset of sustainability issues globally and locally.

For example, signatories are invited and encouraged to engage in cross-programme projects relating to education and sustainable development including:

SDGSustainable Development Goals (SDG)

On 26 September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all—laying out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets that address the most important economic, social, environmental, and governance challenges of our time. These goals will help guide national government priorities, however it is the private sector that will be key to the success of each goal—through responsible business operations, new business models, investment, innovation and technology, and collaboration. For companies, successful implementation of the SDGs will strengthen the enabling environment for doing business and building markets around the world. Overall, the SDGs represent an unprecedented opportunity for business and academic institutions to align their own sustainability goals with goals for the broader society. Although the SDGs don’t officially begin until January 2016, now is the time to start exploring how to align curricula, projects, research, and partnerships and raising awareness about the goals on campus. For business updates on the SDGs, click here, for updates from PRME, click here, and stay tuned to PRiMEtime.

HESIHigher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI)

HESI was created by a consortium of UN entities (UNESCO, UNDESA, UNEP, Global Compact, PRME, and UNU) in the run up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Through HESI, higher education institutions commit to teach sustainable development concepts in their core curricula, conduct research on sustainable development issues, green their campuses and support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they are embedded. Although not specifically focused on management education, many PRME signatories are engaged.

The HESI network comes together regularly, most recently in October 2015 in Paris to discuss Higher Education for Climate Change Action. The event provided an opportunity to:

  • take stock of progress made since Rio+20 by sharing best practices and lessons learnt,
  • discuss the roles and responsibilities of higher education institutions in contributing to business and technological innovation around climate change adaptation and mitigation, and
  • encourage new or enhanced commitments, particularly around the facilitation of academic and scientific inputs into the formulation of climate policies.

The meeting resulted in the formulation of a message and a set of policy recommendations to be presented to the UNFCC Secretariat at COP21 in December 2015 in Paris.


UNESCO Global Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development

gap-esd_logoBuilding on the momentum and increasing importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) beyond the International Decade for Sustainable Development (2005-2015), the Global Action Plan (GAP) seeks to generate and scale-up concrete actions arou
nd ESD in all levels and areas of education and learning
to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. In order to do this five priority action areas have been identified; mainstreaming ESD into educational and sustainable development policies, integrating sustainability principles into education and training settings, building capacities of educators and trainers, empowering and mobilising youth, and accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level. For more on the GAP, click here.

UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) coordinates a wide range of local, regional, and global projects around education for all, at all levels, and in all areas. For more, visit en.unesco.org. One of these projects is the Global Business Coalition for Education, which brings the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth.

For more on UN-related educational programmes and opportunities to engage, keep an eye out for notices in the PRME Newsletter.

2015 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 2)

It is once again time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2015 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world to embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. Sixty articles were posted featuring over 182 examples from more than 114 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review what happened this year and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click here to view Part 1)

Principle 5Principle 5: Partnerships

A growing number of schools are partnering with local businesses to advance sustainability on campus and beyond. In fact, through a new project between Global Compact LEAD and PRME Champions many of these partnerships were highlighted this year including The American University in Cairo’s Women on Boards programme, the development of local sustainability networks by ESPAE, University of Guelph partnership around food, Novo School of Business and Economics’ partnership around children consumer behaviour and the University of Technology Sydney partnership around insurers role in sustainable growth. Additional resources were providing to assist schools in developing new partnerships including 5 Key Messages from Business to Business Schools Around Sustainability and 10 Tips.

Another feature focused on examples of schools engaging with local governments in Turkey, Brazil, Australia, US, UK and Latvia.

Principle 6Principle 6: Dialogue

Most of the examples presented through the year have also involved dialogue around responsible management topics, across the campus and beyond. As always, many posts featured Sharing Information on Progress Reports including an overview of the newly released Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress, as well as a two part series on visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report.

A number of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were featured and celebrated this year including Reykjavik University’s first report, Ivey Business School’s experiences communicating the big picture through their SIP, the recipients of the Recognition of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were highlighted including KEDGE Business School.

Principle “7”: Organisational Practices

PRME signatories globally are increasingly active in creating more sustainable campuses. Coventry University shared their experiences in gaining sustainability accreditation in the UK. A two-part feature on sustainable buildings on campus highlighted a range of approaches being taken by schools around the world.

Last but not least, as businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies to highlight in the classroom. Featured sustainable business examples collected from faculty in 2015 included:

Thank you for a fantastic 2015 and for contributing all of your good practice examples and stories. We encourage you to engage with the discussion and promotion of PRME and the Sustainable Development Agenda on all levels, including our Chapters and working Groups, as well as through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

2016 will be another exciting year in the field of management education and sustainability in particular through the Sustainable Development Goals and business-business school partnerships. If there are any topics in particular you would like to see covered, or you would like your initiatives to be featured, please do not hesitate to contact me at gweybrecht@thesustainablemba.com.

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