Business School Response to the Refugee Crisis

refugeesSixty million people have been displaced by conflict and over 410,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean from the Middle East so far this year. 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.

One month ago today the PRME Secretariat, together with AACSB, AABS, ABIS, AMBA, CEEMAN, CLADEA, EFMD, GMAC, GRLI and EAUC issued a call to action to business schools and management-related higher education institutions (HEIs) in response to the refugee crisis. The call was made in response to a similar call made by the UN Global Compact and the UN Refugee Agency for business to take action.

The leaders of the international academic community were called to take action and address the refugee crisis by providing access to scholarships to business and entrepreneurship related classes and knowledge resources to refugees but also by raising awareness and understanding regarding the situation of refugees, and foster social cohesion. By joining forces with business, governments, UN agencies, civil society organisations and/or other HEIs, business schools can forge long-term partnerships for education and sustainable development.

The following are just a few of the many ways that business schools are responding to this crisis.

Through Collaborative Solutions

The Centre for Education on Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business, CU Boulder (USA) is taking a leadership role by convening relevant groups (local government, non-profits, businesses, and business schools) to address the topic of the responsibility of business and business schools to help address the refugee crisis. The meetings will consider the economic stability, employment for refugees and benefits to local employers within the Denver and Boulder business and civic communities.

By Engaging Students and Staff

ALBA Graduate Business School (Greece) collected information on how individuals can help the incoming refugees that was sent to all students, alumni, faculty and staff. Among other things, it gave directions on how to collect items and send them to the NGOs. ALBA has already offered an MBA full scholarship to a young refugee from Africa

The French Education & Research Ministry made a recent appeal to universities in France to propose solutions and actions that would facilitate the welcoming and integration of Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees. Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) has extended their criteria for the school’s volunteer skills-sharing policy to encourage GEM employees to dedicate 1- 5 days a year of their work-time to help welcome and integrate newly arrived refugees in collaboration with local associations and humanitarian organisations. GEM’s annual Geopolitical Festival in March 2016 will also highlight this urgent issue by hosting a range of activities focused that will examine and discuss the causes, the consequences and potential sustainable and human-focused solutions to this global crisis.

Engaging Refugees

Roughly 3000 refugees are accommodated in Leipzig at an emergency camp located next campus. HHL – Leipzig Graduate School of Management (Germany) opened a collecting point for donations, which are allocated to the refugees. Financial donations received via their graduate students will be used to purchase picture dictionaries in order to support language efforts. Fifteen language interpreters from across campus coordinated the matching of language interpreters with activities. One of these activities is “Neighbour meets Neighbour”, where the refugees can introduce their regional food to students and staff on campus and get in touch with the community. Another initiative has also been put in place to host indoor activities for the refugees at campus, such as a seminar room for a Refugee Law Clinic. HHL is currently organising a field project where students will work for three months with refugee support coordination bodies and a PhD thesis is underway focusing on opportunities and challenges of labour market inclusion for Germany is also in progress. The School is also planning trainings and mini courses aimed at supporting the necessary qualifications of the refugees.

Through Coursework

Hanken School of Economics (Finland) hosts the Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute (HUMLOG Institute), which is a joint research institute founded by Hanken School of Economics and the National Defence University of Finland. The aim of the HUMLOG Institute is to “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”. Through this Institute, Hanken offers a course on humanitarian logistics and students in the course have been encouraged to volunteer to help in coping with the current refugee crisis. They are currently exploring the opportunity to have one project on the refugee crisis in the course this year.

Scholarships

  • Alfred Nobel Open Business School (China) will provide five scholarships to their online e-MBA for registered and selected refugees having business background.
  • Euclid University (Gambia) will be announcing specific full and partial scholarship programmes for qualifying displaced persons and refugees.
  • Haaga-Helia University (Finland) has a proposal a special intake for refugees to study entrepreneurship, languages, sales and service skills as well as career planning. After these studies, they could be admitted as regular students.
  • ESAN Graduate School of Business (Peru) will offer three scholarships to refugees.
  • University of Warsaw (Poland) will provide an access to business and entrepreneurship related classes and a number of scholarships will be offered.
  • University of Strathclyde Business School (UK) is developing a scholarship with the Scottish Refugee Council intended to help asylum seekers and those staying in the UK on humanitarian grounds.
  • SDA Bocconi School of Management (Italy) already offers two open courses (strategy and finance) free of charge aimed at increasing the employability of young people. This course will now also be open to refugees.
  • Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) will offer admission to 5-10 qualified student refugees to study in one of the schools’ programmes.

 

To submit your pledge visit https://business.un.org/pledge_refugee_crisis

5 Key Messages from Businesses to Business Schools Around Sustainability

PRME Global ForumAt the recent PRME Global Forum in New York City, business representatives from the Global Compact LEAD and PRME Champions groups met to discuss how they could work together to move the sustainability agenda forwards for their respective organisations and beyond. The discussion covered a range of different possible projects and collaborations but, in particular, focused on the need to develop employees and graduates with the relevant competencies and skills that businesses of the 21st century need.

The representatives from the Global Compact companies provided a number of interesting insights during this meeting that are relevant to PRME Signatories. Six key messages came out of the discussion, including:

  1. Business doesn’t need sustainability professionals, but rather professionals that are capable of making sustainable decisions in any role.

Many of the business representatives present suggested that a sustainability course/degree/certificate may miss the point. While basic knowledge of sustainability is of course necessary, more important is that graduates have an understanding of how to apply it in the business context in which they are working and the function that they are filling. They need all of them employees to have this knowledge and not just a few specialized individuals.

  1. Business needs better managers/leaders/team members to move sustainability forward.

Business need graduates that have the reflexes to ask the right questions and to find answers when it comes to sustainability. They should be able to ask “Will the decision I am making today stand the test of time, and if it doesn’t, what decision should I make?” Graduates need to be able to drive and influence change, build consensus, and shift the conversation.

  1. Business can see that graduates are increasingly interested in the topic of sustainability and are seeing some benefits….

Businesses in the room at the PRME-LEAD meeting stated that they receive a significantly higher number of applicants, and higher quality applicants, for all jobs because of their reputation as a sustainability leader. This is particularly true when sustainability is mentioned in the job application. Businesses are noticing the work that academic institutions are doing in this area and are encouraged by the changes they are already seeing in graduates.

  1. …but also recognise that there is more business could do to help in this regard.

As sustainability becomes core to how modern companies operate, it will increasingly be part of all jobs and therefore job descriptions and selection criteria. However, business representatives agreed that this isn’t always the case and these skills, which they admit they want/need, are often not integrated into the recruiting process. Incorporating sustainability into the recruiting process would sent a strong message to students about the importance of being knowledgeable about sustainability topics to increase their changes of being hired.

  1. Business is interested in engaging with business schools, but partnerships need to be mutually beneficial

Business schools want/need business to engage with them in order to move their sustainability agendas forward, while businesses often prefer to engage with schools that they see are already advanced in this area. For this reason business schools need to give businesses a clear reason to want to work with them. Do you have students who are knowledgeable about these topics and can use that knowledge to help a company further their efforts? Does your school have a research focus that coincides with that of a local company engaged in sustainability? There needs to be something in it for all parties involved.

  1. Business schools should become knowledgeable in what business needs are in the area of sustainability today, and prepare for what they may be in the future.

Representatives working in the field of sustainability within leading businesses are busy people with limited time and resources. They do not necessarily have the time to tell business schools what they need and want, it is up to the schools themselves to uncover these needs and tailor programmes and projects accordingly. They can do this by staying connected and up to date with sustainability issues, attending local, country, and regional Global Compact events or organising and bringing together groups of professionals working in this field from their city.

 

For more on the outcomes of both meetings, view the outcomes documents from the PRME Global Forum and the Global Compact +15. ‘The State of Sustainability in Management Education’ was launched at this meeting and provides a summary of some of the challenges that management education are facing in embedding these topics into their curriculum as well as some of the opportunities for business and academic institutions to work together moving forward.

Generating Concrete, Multi-Disciplinary Solutions to Sustainability Challenges – Stockholm School of Economics (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.35.32The Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) in Sweden recently submitted their first Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report, which is filled with interesting and unique initiatives. Sweden is home to a range of international companies including Ericsson, Astra Zeneca, Ikea, Skanska, Skype and H&M providing several opportunities for the School to engage and contribute to the corporate sustainability agenda. I recently spoke with Lin Lerpold, Executive Director at the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets at SSE about some of the initiatives that they are currently most proud of.

The first of two featured initiatives is SSE’s Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) that started the first of January 2015, and already includes more than 17 multi-disciplinary researchers. Funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA) for the next five years, the Centre will aim to generate concrete solutions and processes that will contribute directly to sustainable economic development. It is cross-disciplinary and research is meant to be collaborative and draw on actors from academia, business and policy, in order to understand and create business-relevant solutions for sustainable markets. The Centre has three pillars: research, education and outreach, which will develop in concert with each other.

How did this partnership with MISTRA come about?

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA) supports research of strategic importance for a good living environment and sustainable development. The SSE has a long reputation for conducting collaborative research with Swedish Multinationals such as Ericsson and H&M. Mistra approached SSE some years back and wanted to meaningfully support the already ongoing sustainability research in a major way, not least of all building on SSE’s corporate connections and having an impact on future leaders in society.

What are some of the research projects you are working on now, or are being planned going forward?

A number of research projects are already being conducted in MISUM. Projects include a focus on circular economies in the fashion industry, microfinance and poverty alleviation, global supply chains and human rights, the creation of sustainable food consumption, sustainable capital budgeting, and integrated reporting. A new project is in the works focusing on sustainable systems, including research on how current economic systems can better be used for more sustainable markets. This project is really exciting involving some 50 researchers in Sweden and abroad, and is a collaboration between natural scientists, engineers, economists, management scholars, sociologists, political scientists and even philosophers.

How will this impact teaching and students? Will students be involved? Students are already involved in a number of capacities. Several are helping out in an administrative capacity whilst learning about sustainability research, others are working as teaching assistants in courses and a number are participating in either a MISUM-initiated research project or in MISUM-supported thesis research. Regarding MISUM’s impact on teaching, the SSE mission is that all education is based on science. Thus our teaching relies on the latest research and all MISUM faculty are simultaneously researchers and teachers covering all degree programmes at SSE.

What are some of the challenges/successes of working across disciplines through this centre?

All trans- and cross-disciplinary research collaborations are a challenge. Researchers from different fields most often have diverse views on ontology and the philosophy of science, and approach knowledge with different lenses and methods. This is a challenge and requires time to learn a common language and understanding. Though our pre-understandings may be different, all researchers in MISUM have been recruited on two requirements: one, that they are excellent researchers in their own fields and two, that they share a common passion for sustainable development and the conviction that solving our sustainability challenges require a trans-disciplinary research.

What advice do you have for other schools thinking of doing something similar?

Get top level strategic support from school leadership, and meaningful resources to make it happen. For a long time and increasingly so, academic careers are solely built on publications not easily accessible to users or practitioners. The relevance of academic research to society and stakeholders has been seriously challenged, and the role of universities and business schools in society is being debated. As Brewer (1999) says, “The world has problems, universities have departments.” To address this, leadership must have the vision and the resources to commit to change.

What’s next?

After the initial start-up and the creation of a critical mass in researchers working together, MISUM is well positioned to develop into a knowledge and resource centre of excellence on sustainable markets, its actors, structures and processes. As multi-stakeholder collaboration in research is further ensured and deepened, plans are under way to develop a “Sustainable Markets Action Lab” where financial market actors, companies and researchers can together design and experiment with sustainability initiatives and monitor their actual outcomes as they unfold.

Part two of this post will introduce SSE’s work in redesigning their flagship programme to embed sustainability challenges.

The Post-2015 Process – Bringing together the Sustainable Development Goals

resource_preview_441In 2000, world leaders put in place the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a set of eight goals which have focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. Specific progress on the 21 targets and 60 indicators associated with the goals can be found in the MDG 2013 report and progress reports by country can be found through the United Nations Statistics Division.

The MDGs, set to expire in 2015, will be replaced by a new set of goals and targets, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Currently the international community is exploring what these goals could be. An Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has been put in place to prepare a report containing a proposal for the set of SDGs. This working group has 30 seats shared by a group of 70 Member State representatives. Inputs are also being coordinated by a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, made up of representatives from civil society, private sector, academia, and local and national governments, along with a UN System Tasks Force made up of more than 60 UN agencies and international organisations.

While the MDGs were established and agreed on by 189 governments following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, the creation of the SDG goals are to be a collaborative effort involving not just governments and the UN, but civil society more extensively. This is being done through a range of local, national, and global consultations, both online and offline, led by different specialised UN agencies, around eleven thematic areas: Inequalities, Governance, Health, Sustainability, Population, WaterEmployment,  ConflictFoodEducation,  and Energy.

The nine major stakeholder groups, identified for consultation during the first Earth Summit, are also providing significant inputs into this process. The groups are Business and Industry, Children and Youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Local Authorities, NGOs, Workers and Trade Unions, and the Scientific and Technological Community. Each represents the voice of their respective constituencies within UN meetings and the post-2015 process, and each has their own process for gathering and submitting contributions and inputs into the SDG development process.

Three business-related platforms are providing input into the process: the Sustainable Solutions Network of think tanks, the World Economic Forum, and the UN Global Compact. The UN Global Compact has put in place LEAD, a consortium of 50 large-scale, globally oriented corporations to collect contributions and recommendations. The findings of this consultation process were compiled in June 2013 in a report to the UN Secretary General. The Global Compact also contributed another document to the UN process, Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture, which illustrates the main building blocks necessary to enhance corporate sustainability as an effective contribution to sustainable development. Companies are also engaging via the Global Compact’s range of issue specific platforms such as the CEO Water Mandate, Business for Peace, and the Food and Agriculture Business Principles.

This process of creating the SDGs will culminate in a high level summit in September 2015. For a full list of meetings leading up to this, visit the interactive time line and for more information and resources about the SDGs, visit http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org.

Five ways to get engaged in the Post-2015 process

  1. Contribute to the consultation process on different themes: Follow and contribute to the consultations happening online around the different thematic areas and stakeholder groups. A second round of consultations is currently happening online at www.worldwewant2015.org and is an opportunity not just to share your thoughts but also your best practices, research, and to provide inputs on joint position papers.
  2. Share your thoughts on what should be included: Several online platforms provide a space for individuals to have their say on which issues are most important to them and their family including www.myworld2015.org or post2015.org. Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory is crowdsourcing proposals for post-2015 to feed into the intergovernmental process for SDGs.
  3. Contribute to the consultations of the business sector: The UN Global Compact is conducting consultations among its Local Networks, around two key themes: how elements of the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda apply to specific national settings and how business can best support priorities likely to be found in the Sustainable Development Goals. See Engaging with the Private Sector. You can also engage through the work being done via the different issues specific platforms of the UN Global Compact.
  4. Get your school engaged: Introduce your students to the MDGs and Post-2015 agenda, and have discussion around how business can and should contribute. Explore ways to incorporate the SDGs into your research, courses, events on campus and, once established, participate in making them happen in your community and country.
  5. Stay up to date about the issues being discussed at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org and follow discussions on social media at #post2015, and on Facebook and Youtube.

 

Business Contributions to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – Issue Briefs (part 2 of 2)

Post 2015Over more than a decade, the international community has been working on reaching targets set forth by the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals which focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. As these targets are set to expire in 2015, the international community, including the private sector and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are currently discussing what will comprise the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) post-2015.

Based on extensive consultations with the UN Global Compact network of companies around the world, a series of ten issue briefs have been developed to explore the critical role business has to play in achieving sustainable development goals, and the willingness of the business community and HEIs, to support the efforts of government and civil society in this work. These briefs provide suggestions of issues and accountability mechanisms to be included in the SDGs, and outline business’ role in helping to achieve these goals. These papers were presented to the co-chairs of the inter-governmental Open Working Group on SDG.

Here, in Part 2 of the blogpost, is an introduction to the issues of infrastructure & technology, peace & stability, poverty, water & sanitation and women’s empowerment. For more detailed information click on the links below to access the full issue brief. (See Part 1 for energy & climate, education, food & agriculture, governance & human rights, and health)

Infrastructure and Technology: Technology is the beating heart of economic transformation, and good infrastructure protects the environment while providing the leverage people need to lift themselves out of poverty. This includes deploying investment sufficient to meet requirements for “green” transport, energy, and water systems in the developing world and upgrading and replacing old infrastructure in the developed world, increasing the share of the population with access to public transportation, stepping up R&D in both public and private sectors and reducing carbon emissions from the construction and operation of buildings. Equally important, is creating universal and affordable access to the internet and computing technology, and effective use of e-governance to increase managerial capacity and transparency. Businesses are engaging in these issues in a variety of ways, including through the Green Growth Action Alliance launched by the World Economic Forum.

Peace and Stability: Businesses consider peace and security to be crucial to sustainable development, and an area where their own interests give them reason to complement the responsibility of public institutions to build and maintain peaceful situations. This includes improving access to justice, services and economic opportunity for diverse ethnic, religious and social groups; improving mediation, dispute resolution and dialogue mechanisms to prevent and resolve conflict and to build peace; and reducing violent deaths, preventing and reducing the illicit trade of small arms, and reducing the reach and extent of organised crime—especially through the provisions of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Violent crimes are bad for business, and companies are looking at the means they have at their disposal to defuse social conflicts before they get out of hand or, in post-conflict situations, help to weave a strong social fabric leading to shared prosperity and stability. Businesses are engaging in these issues through platforms such as the UN Global Compact’s Business For Peace.

Poverty: The eradication of poverty is widely expected to be the overarching objective of the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes eliminating extreme poverty (those living under $1.25/day in 2005 real US dollars), creating jobs , eliminating child labour, ensuring full access to private finance and reducing the Gini co-efficient rating, a measurement of income inequality, in each country. Recognising the drawbacks that even moderate poverty poses to societies and economies, a growing number of companies are adopting new policies and practices that are inclusive of the poor as employees, customers, suppliers, and neighbours. This includes work being done through the Women’s Empowerment Principles and the Poverty Footprint Methodology.

Water and Sanitation: Water and sanitation are key given their cross-cutting nature in relation to sustainable development priorities—including energy, food, and women’s and girl’s empowerment. This includes universal access to affordable and safe fresh water, and basic and improved sanitation facilities to bring freshwater use in line with supply, and ensure establishment and full implementation of national water effluent standards. A growing number of companies are adopting new policies and practices to reduce their corporate water use, improve the quality of water returned to the environment, and to provide decent water, sanitation and hygiene services for employees, and the communities in which they operate. Further efforts include the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and the CEO Water Mandate’s Water Action Hub.

Women’s Empowerment: A key target for the sustainable development priorities will be to achieve women’s and girl’s empowerment. This includes increasing the proportion of leadership positions held by women in public and private sectors, universally recognising and enforcing equal pay for equal work, increasing full and equal access of women to ownership, property rights and land titles, and reducing the rates of violent acts committed against women and girls. In addition to gender equality being a fundamental and inviolable human right, women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expanding economic growth, promoting social development, and enhancing business performance. The full incorporation of women’s capacities into labour forces would add percentage points to most national growth rates. Business is engaging through the Women’ Empowerment Principles among a range of efforts, to further this goal.

For more details about the business sectors contribution to the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals visit the UN Global Compact site and stay tuned for future Primetime Posts on the topic.

From now through July 2014, the Online Consultation for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda on Engaging with the Private Sector is being held on the World We Want platform, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). You can contribute to the dialogue at www.worldwewant2015.org/privatesector2015.

 

Business Contributions to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – Issue Briefs (part 1 of 2)

Post 2015

Over more than a decade, the international community has been working on reaching targets set forth by the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals which focused global attention on a limited set of concrete human development goals and provided targets for national and international development priorities. As these targets are set to expire in 2015, the international community, including the private sector and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are currently discussing what will comprise the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) post-2015.

Based on extensive consultations with the UN Global Compact network of companies around the world, a series of ten issue briefs have been developed to explore the critical role business has to play in achieving sustainable development goals, and the willingness of the business community and HEIs, to support the efforts of government and civil society in this work. These briefs provide suggestions of issues and accountability mechanisms to be included in the SDGs and outline business’ role in helping to achieve these goals. These papers were presented to the co-chairs of the inter-governmental Open Working Group on SDG.

Here is a brief introduction to the different issues presented including, in part 1, energy & climate, education, food & agriculture, governance & human rights, and health, and in part 2 infrastructure & technology, peace & stability, poverty, water & sanitation and women’s empowerment. For more detailed information click on the links to access the full issue briefs.

Energy & Climate: Climate change and unmet energy demands are challenges that recognise no political or physical boundaries, crossing all sectors and industries globally. The private sector has a role to play as solutions-providers in mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change and ensuring energy security, while simultaneously generating attractive financial returns. It also plays a role in developing new and innovative solutions to climate and energy challenges, and finding ways to collaborate and form partnerships, seizing opportunities for greater investment in technological solutions. Additionally, businesses themselves are aligning business practices to advance climate solutions—raising standards, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, and committing to longer range sustainability objectives and goals in order to better align their efforts and strategies in relation to the broad global sustainable development agenda. For more on one active private sector participation, see Caring for Climate, an initiative aimed at advancing the role of business in addressing climate change.

Education: Businesses consistently single out education as the first or second priority for the post-2015 world, and also one of the areas where they are best positioned to make a difference. This includes ensuring that every child completes primary education, facilitating computing skills in secondary schools, increasing the percentage of young adults with skills needed for work, achieving parity in enrolment and educational opportunities at all levels for girls and women, and including sustainable development concepts at all levels of schooling with special emphasis on business school. The business community is doing this through partnerships, on the job training, the development of new technologies, and through initiatives such as the Framework for Business Engagement in Education and the Principles for Responsible Management Education.

Food & Agriculture: Farming and food occupy a pivotal position in sustainable development. Enhanced harvests, food processing and distribution will help to eradicate hunger, renovation of the rural sectors of the developing world, where the great bulk if the poor are found, is key to an advance on prosperity, and current agricultural practices are at once contributing and threatened by, climate change. The business sector believes the goals in this area should focus on eradicating hunger and halting increase of obesity and malnutrition, doubling the productivity of agriculture in the least developed countries, stopping and turning back the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation resulting from farming and livestock, decreasing overexploitation of ocean fish stocks, and reducing food waste. Business can play a role through development of new crops, training of farmers, utilising new technologies and processes, and increasing collaboration and lesson-sharing through issue platforms such as the Food and Agriculture Business Principles.

Governance & Human Rights: The business community identified both fair and efficient governance and an environment where human rights can flourish as not only benefiting business, but being necessary features of a sustainable society. This includes raising awareness and implementation of all UN human rights conventions and instruments, achieving competitive and transparent procurement processes, further developing an open, rule based, non-discriminatory international trading and financial system, and establishing a climate supportive of business and investment at home and from overseas—including further incentives in favour of sustainability. Business can play a role through scrupulous respect for human rights in the workplace and in their dealings with stakeholders, as well as through the framework laid out in the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Health: Health is central to development and is an investment that enables economic growth and wealth, as well as better quality of lives. This includes affordable access to quality treatment and care for all, the reduction of the reach of TB, malaria,HIV/AIDS, and non-communicable diseases, universal reproductive health services, and reducing maternal and under-five mortality. Health care constitutes a major industry and is involved in global campaigns to fight disease and make medications more affordable. They are also involved in innovative partnerships in wide-ranging areas such as research & development, disease elimination, new business models, community partnerships, and innovative licensing.

 

From now through July 2014, the Online Consultation for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda on Engaging with the Private Sector is being held on the World We Want platform, hosted by the UN Global Compact and UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). You can contribute to the dialogue at www.worldwewant2015.org/privatesector2015.

Encouraging Sustainability Discussion on Campus – Milgard School of Business

Communication ColumnBusiness schools around the world have been exploring how to bring sustainability into the classroom, but how do you get students talking about sustainability in between classes? In an attempt to increase student interest and debate around sustainability issues, the Milgard School of Business at the University of Washington Tacoma in the US regularly posts current sustainability news on a prominent column in the main lobby of the school. I recently had the chance to speak with Joe Lawless, the Executive Director of the Center for Leadership & Social Responsibility at the Milgard School of Business about their efforts.

1.     What is Milgard’s approach to sustainability/responsible leadership?

The Milgard School’s approach to sustainability/responsible leadership is a comprehensive approach through curriculum integration in all courses, as well as course offerings that specifically address the topic. More essential, however, is creating an environment where students are consistently exposed to corporate citizenship and sustainability issues through communications, activities, and speakers who bring abstract concepts to life with real-world issues that face business leaders. Many of these activities are coordinated by our Center for Leadership & Social Responsibility.

2.     What is the Communication Column?

The Communications Column was developed to provide a forum for students to be exposed to the innovative ways that companies are dealing with sustainability and corporate citizenship issues. The column is in the main lobby of the Milgard School of Business building, and students pass it on a daily basis. We took what was a simple support column and wrapped it with a 4-sided, wooden (reclaimed wood from a campus remodel project) display case. The column came about because we needed a way to keep the messages of responsible leadership, social responsibility, sustainability, and integrity in front of students in order to affect the culture within the school. It was a simple way to leverage unused space to move the Principles of PRME forward with our students.

3.     What is posted on the Column?

We promote our Center’s events and activities, like our CSR Student Case Competition or speakers series. On a weekly basis, we rotate stories of companies and their sustainability/citizenship initiatives. The stories are researched, compiled, and displayed by a marketing/public relations student. The student involvement is crucial to our mission and also provides stories through the lens of student experience. As we rotate to new student workers, they will bring new perspectives and approaches. We keep links to full stories on our Center’s website at: https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/column, so that students can read the full story and/or cite it in their research papers. Typically the column contains more graphics with story “briefs” for a quick read.

4.     What impact has the Column had on the campus community?

The column has had a very subtle, but meaningful effect on the tone of our students’ experience. We hear students reference stories that they have seen on the Column in class and in conversation. Often times a conversation with a student will begin, “I saw that story about how XYZ company is handling their energy impact on the column…”

5.     What was your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenges were getting the column designed, built, and through the administrative maze of approvals. We overcame this challenge through sheer determination. It took about 2 years for the entire process, but it was well worth it. Our next challenge was keeping the stories updated and relevant. We began by having our (very limited) staff creating and building content, but quickly realised that in order to do it well, we needed someone’s full attention. We pay a student worker for 10-12 hours a week to do the company and/or story research, create the graphic and story details that will go on the Column, and update the website with links to the full source information. This model has worked out very well for the school and for the students who have served in this role.

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

Make sure that you have the resources and/or systems in place to keep the information relevant and continually changing. If the same information stays on display for more than a week, students will begin to ignore it. Having a website set up for links to full source information is also a great way to archive materials over time and to provide an additional service for students. The last word of advice would be to have someone with a good sense of graphic design do the displays. The more visually appealing the stories are, the more they will make an impact.

How do you encourage discussion about sustainability issues on campus? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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