Business Examples from Around the World – Finland, Belgium and France

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Here are some examples from Finland, Belgium and France.

Nikodemus Solitander and Martin Fougèr, Hanken School of Economics, Finland

Finland is not really a leader in sustainability issues – especially in comparison to its Nordic counterparts. However, one interesting recent development is that companies seem to be increasingly willing to engage with NGOs and be active in social responsibility initiatives. One good example of a company taking an active stance relating to social responsibility is SOK / S-group (retailing cooperative, second largest retail organization in Finland), S-group has become particularly responsive to NGO claims in the past few years, and is actively taking on the issues raised. When it comes to environmental responsibility, Finnish companies often pride themselves on their ability to innovate in ways that are more sustainable. St1, a Finnish energy company which has taken the lead in sustainable bioethanol production and is using waste and industrial side products as 
raw material (instead of e.g. palm oil, much criticized by environmental organizations). St1 has a very clear sustainability vision that permeates its strategy and at the same time they make it clear that in order to be able to finance these types of innovations they have to be pragmatic (they are not yet generating profits with their waste-based biofuel and they thus finance its production by operating more traditional service stations).

Talia Stough and Kim Ceulemans, University of Brussels, Belgium

Colruyt Group is Belgian company, active in all segments of the retail chain, and amongst others working on ecological and fair trade food partnerships. Colruyt Group values education for sustainable development, is a sponsor of the Environment, Health, and Safety degree program here at HUB, and they are actively involved in our sustainability commitment.Umicore is a Belgian, now global, materials technology and recycling group. In 2013, Umicore was ranked as the most sustainable company in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World index.KAURI is the Belgian multi-actor learning network and knowledge centre on Corporate Responsibility (Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance & Corporate Citizenship) and NGO Accountability.

Tashina Giraud, Sustainable Development Manager, Euromed, France

La Poste (French Postal Service) is a long term partner for our school. They helped us launch our first research chair in 2007 on sustainable performance and are a founding member of the Responsible Management Network. La Poste has put in place an ambitious zero-carbon policy with eco-driving classes, electric vehicles and carbon compensation. Through this, sending your mail in France no longer emits CO2. The Poste is also a new partner in the circular economy research chair.

Adecco (temporary job placement) is one of the founding members of the Responsible Management Network and they invest heavily on this topic, such as by putting in place a employment agency that helps find jobs for “de-socialized” people.

Bringing together sustainable companies in Australia – MGSM CSR Partnership Network

DHL2 Nov 8 AICCWhen it comes to bringing sustainability and responsible leadership to campus, many schools are finding that one of the best ways to do this is to bring together a range of partners from across society who are already actively working in this area. This is proving to be an excellent opportunity for the schools themselves not just to learn more about these issues but to help strengthen the position of sustainability in companies and organizations by providing space for discussion and collaboration on common research projects.

Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia realized that in order to create a better understanding of CSR in Australia they needed to gather and learn from leading businesses in this area. I recently had the chance to speak with the faculty Leader of Global Citizenship, Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, who started the MGSM CSR Partnership Network about this new programme.

1.What is the MGSM CSR Partnership Network?

The MGSM CSR Partnership Network was created to better understand Corporate Social Responsibility in Australia, to create significant social impact through shared learnings and to increase public awareness about theses issues. The Partnership Network is composed of select organisations renowned for their CSR initiatives. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in Australia sponsor the Network that also includes: National Australia Bank (NAB), PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia (PwC), IBM, AMP Insurance, Unilever, Brookfield Multiplex, the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the New South Wales Department of Citizenship, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the New South Wales Centre for Volunteering. The Network meets to discuss best practices, innovations and challenges regularly and will serve as the basis for new studies while benefitting from evidence-based peer learning to guide their own corporate initiatives. A key project relating to the Network will be an annual study on various aspects of CSR that aims to create an evidence-based dialogue with various stakeholders from across all sectors in Australia.

2.Why/How did you start the Network?

Two principles guided me in starting this initiative. The first was to work from a multi-stakeholder approach. If we were to create some CSR Partnership Network, it was clear to me that we would need to include the Not For Profits, the community and the Government and to have their voice heard in these matters to create shared value. The second principle was that this will have to be an evidence-based dialogue, led by research and creating knowledge and shared learning.

3.What have been some of the challenges? The successes?

It was not easy for some of the companies to commit to participating in the study. Some had concern regarding survey fatigue or having their own CSR survey. However, many saw it as a great opportunity to network, lead the way in responsible management and benefit from an academic study, which will allow them to improve employee participation in CSR, engagement and motivation.

In terms of the successes, we now have a “dream team” of great companies, governmental departments and NFPs on board. It took 18 months to put this team together and we are finally ready to launch the MGSM CSR Partnership Network on the 22nd of March, in the first workshop. It was well received by almost anyone we’ve approached, as it was seen as beneficial to all participants.

4. How does the Network benefit the work the school is doing in CSR?

The MGSM CSR Partnership Network creates a valuable network, which increases the positive reputation of the MGSM. It also creates ongoing research opportunities, which allows me to collect, analyse and publish data. But most importantly, it creates real partnership with various stakeholders that will in turn create knowledge, inspire others, create social impact and help advance CSR in Australia.

5. What advice do you have for other schools thinking of putting together similar networks and what’s next for the network?

We will run the first workshop on the 22nd of March. In April we will run the online survey on corporate volunteering. We will have another workshop to share the results and then in September we will launch the annual report in a big event, with the participation of the New South Wales state Minister of Communities and Citizenship, The Hon. Victor Dominello MP.

In terms of advice for other schools; believe in what you do and others will follow. If you are very passionate about Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Social Volunteering, it is amazing what can be achieved.

Using Online Games to Teach Sustainability – Part 1

Click here to see a recent update to this article.

Lately, I have been seeing quite a bit about games and how games can be used to not only help educate individuals about sustainability issues, but also help solve the challenges it poses. Games provide of the opportunity for friendly competition, lower the barriers to participation and can spur innovation. This three part series will look at a range of games, most available for free online.

Using gamers to collectively explore options: Fold it is a web platform that involves gamers in contributing to important scientific research. Individuals can compete to design new proteins that could be used to prevent or treat diseases like HIV. Planet Hunters allows individuals to look through the massive quantity of images coming back from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft to help look for planets amongst the stars.

Using games to encourage green behaviour: A growing number of sites such Recylebank reward individuals for everyday green behaviours, like recycling, with deals and discounts in the US.

Using games to educate about sustainability: Oceanopolis is a Facebook game based on designed to educate users on sustainable living, in which users protect their island paradise from being buried under recyclable rubbish. Sweatshop is a game that educates users about the realities that many workers around the world contend with each day. Players act as the factory manager and are responsible for hiring workers while ensuring that prices stay down and product numbers stay high.

Using games to show gamers the challenges that businesses face: Karma Tycoon offers gamers the chance to run their own NGO. Oiligarchy puts gamers in the seat of CEO of the world biggest oil company, confronting them with real challenges like corruption.

Using games to come up with creative solutions to the world’s problems: Evoke is a ten week crash course in changing the world. The goal of this social network game is to help empower people all over the world to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems. The game was developed by the World Bank Institute and is appropriate for all ages.

Using games to raise awareness about particular issues: The Reebok Human Rights Foundation, International Crisis Group and mtvU created the Darfur Digital Activities Challenge, which brought together technology students to create games to help educate the public about the genocide in Darfur. One of the finalists, Darfur is Dying, requires players to negotiate forces that threaten the survival of their refugee camps.

Using Games for Good: PSFK and Al Gore, with The Climate Reality Project, collaborated in an open source Gaming for Good Challenge where gamers were encouraged to create games that build awareness, promote fundraising, solve the unsolvable, embed knowledge, teach new skills or leverage collective manpower. One of the finalists was the very popular Facebook game, FarmVille, which gives players the change to run their own farms.

Do you use any games or simulations in your classes? Please share your experiences in the discussions area below.

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