Creating an Integrated Report – Euromed Management

2011-2012 Euromed Integrated ReportBusiness schools and universities around the world have been putting together their sustainability efforts into comprehensive sustainability reports. These reports provide the opportunity to engage the school community and provide an overview of activities and a baseline for future activities.

Schools themselves take a variety of approaches regarding the organisation of their reports. A growing number of companies are creating integrated reports. According to the International Integrated Reporting Committee, “integrated reporting demonstrates the linkages between an organisation’s strategy, governance and financial performance and the social, environmental and economic context within which it operates.” Euromed Management in France is one of the few business schools that produces an integrated report, and I recently had the chance to speak to Tashina Giraud, Sustainable Development Manager, about her experiences.

1. Why did Euromed Management decide to take this approach?

Incorporating broader indicators into the sustainable development matrix allows for a better understanding of the complex relationship between financial and extra-financial performance. It also serves as a management tool so that we have a clearer vision of the risks and opportunities of our strategy.

We firmly believe that quality reporting leads to better decision making and more sustainable performance. Euromed Management’s integrated report looks like an average corporate report. Its uniqueness comes from its structure and content. Divided into four main chapters, the report covers our strategy, our spheres of activity, our performance and stakeholder contributions. The heart of the report is found in the second chapter that is structured around our sustainability strategy, or Green Plan.

 2. What is the French Green Plan and how does it affect the school?

The French Green Plan is a sustainability assessment tool developed for and by higher education institutions. The French Green Plan was launched in June 2010 by the presidents of the “Conférence des Grandes Ecoles” (French Business and Engineering Schools) and the “Conférence des Présidents d’Universités (Public Universities), the French Minister for Higher Education and Research and the French Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea. It identified sustainable development plans for higher education institutions. In 2009, a law was passed in France that obligates higher education institutions to report their “Green Plan” every year to the ministries.

For the past three years, we have based our analysis on sustainable development indicators within our “Green Plan,” which are divided into five categories: strategy and governance, teaching and training, research activities, social policy and community involvement, and environmental management.

3. How has the integrated report been received? What have been your successes? Challenges?

In 2012-2013 we published our second integrated report and it has been even better received than the first edition. The integrated report allows us to reach a larger audience than our traditional report did. It also demonstrates the coherence between the school’s strategy, communications, and actions.

We continue to receive letters and emails from organizations such as UNESCO and PRME congratulating us on this innovative and transparent reporting method. But this recognition is not our greatest success. What is incredible is that this report truly comes from our entire school, not just the sustainability department. It has been a great to tool for federating and inspiring interest in sustainability actions.

Our greatest challenge was centralising a large quantity of information and effectively communicating on our findings, – for example, finding the balance between corporate reporting and sustainability reporting.


4. What advice do you have for others looking into integrated reporting?

Start with a quality sustainability assessment tool. Sustainability is such a transversal topic that it is a good base for reporting. It also helps structure the report in an easily understandable and credible manner.

Another key notion to remember is that of transparency. The goal of this integrated report is to be exhaustive and frank with the reader. It is not a tool for Green Washing and simply valorising a school’s actions. You also have to recognize when you have not met expectations.


5. What’s next for Euromed Management?

This is a critical year for our school and the last year that we will be known as “Euromed Management.” We are currently merging with Bordeaux’s management school and we will soon be called “Kedge Business School.” This means that the next integrated report must not only integrate financial and extra-financial information – it must also merge the reporting of two different schools. Luckily for us, Bordeaux also uses the Green Plan for its reporting.

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.

Promoting Research around Sustainability: Examples from the UK, France, Belgium and Canada

During the 3rd PRME Global Forum at Rio+20 in June, one of the discussion topics revolved around research and how to promote research on sustainability topics. How can we facilitate faculty need for research publications on sustainability? What type of change strategy can be developed that will shift the emphasis in research toward rigorous, yet practical, theoretically informed research?

An Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing sustainability at the heart of management education, which launched at the 3rd Global Forum, provides answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning how to move forward in embedding sustainability into management education. In putting together the Guide, many schools shared projects and initiatives around promoting sustainability research on campus. Here are some examples from the UK, France, Belgium and Canada.

Ashridge Business Schoolwanted to understand the proportion of faculty engaged in research that related in some way to sustainability. The thinking was that, if a member of faculty was researching how sustainability related to their core area of expertise, then that could be a good indicator as to whether new thinking on sustainable business might also be coming into his/her educational work. As a result, the school measured, over an 18 month period, that 25% of faculty had either published some kind of research or thought leadership, or had spoken or played a facilitative role in an event where there was a connection with the theme of sustainable business.

At Euromed Management, over 30% of academic activities and publications are linked to corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability issues, and the number of publications continues to rise. These results are due to various initiatives, including the creation of projects, networks and research chairs. However, the deciding factor lies in the school’s decision to structure research into five priority groups, one of which is dedicated to the CSR.

Louvain School of Managementorganises the CSR Research Seminar, which aims to bring together researchers, PhD candidates and prominent professors from around the world to discuss their respective research projects. Participants come from various disciplines and fields, including, but not limited to, management, law, sociology, philosophy, economics, political science, and social psychology, but sharing a common interest for CSR and business and society issues. The goal is to explore the diverse dimensions of these questions, and special attention is given to research projects that involve strong linkages with industry participants.

The University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business’s Building Sustainable Value Research Center has a Research Network for Sustainability that connects researchers, teachers and practitioners to better facilitate the creation and dissemination of evidence-based research in business sustainability. The network, which includes more than 2,700 managers, academics and students, maintains a website with an online database. There is a section specifically for researchers that includes both recent articles focused on sustainability in a range of academic journals as well as journals that are looking for contributions for special sustainability editions.

The Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing sustainability at the heart of management education, is available online at http://www.gseresearch.com/about/prme.htm.

Online and connected: Bringing Sustainability courses online

More and more business schools are exploring the wide range of ways that they can use the Internet to not just promote their programmes, but to enhance them. This is the first of a series of blogs looking at how business schools are using the Internet to communicate and engage with not just students but the wider community regarding sustainability issues.

One of the ways is by providing programme online content for students. There are already a number of schools offering degree progammes online, such as Marlboro College in the USA with their MBA in Managing for Sustainability. Antioch University also in the USA has a new Sustainable MBA which held a virtual open house on their website last March to introduce prospective students to their programme.
A growing number of business schools are using the web to provide the public with a range of free online courses on topics relating to sustainability and responsible leadership. The Open University Business School in the UK provides a range of individual courses and programs focused on sustainable business via distance and online learning. Their OpenLearn website gives free access to course materials and Learning Space, including many free study units, each with a discussion forum. Sample lectures from many of their courses are also available from iTunes U, a database of thousands of free lectures from all around the world. MIT in the US has an Opencourseware platform which provides over 2000 courses online free of charge, including a range of courses from the business school, covering topics relating to responsible management.

FGV-EAESP, in collaboration with Walmart Brazil, has developed three free online courses about sustainability. The first course, “Sustainability in everyday life: guidelines for citizens” launched on February 1 in Portuguese and addresses the importance of responsible consumption. The course is offered through the OpenCourseWare Consortium, a collaboration of higher education institutions and associated organisations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.

The Escuela de organizacion industrial in Spain, also a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium has a programme called Salvia. Salvia is an institutional repository of books, case studies, projects, research etc. produced by the school on the topic of sustainability available to the public. EOI also has a wide range of blogs on the topics of commons, sustainability and responsible innovation and is active on a wide range of social media platforms.

Grenoble Ecole de Management in France created OPEN RIM – Responsible Innovation and Management, an online knowledge sharing and learning platform financed by the Rhône-Alpes region.  It is kept up to date by students and faculty who develop online content including courses and educational materials, student initiatives and projects. The web platform will be available to the general public during the 2010-2011 academic year with several online courses, including responsibility in the global economy, acting on sustainable development, and business ethics, among others.

The Innovation School at EUROMED in France is an online learning platform that acts as a knowledge database and provides a range of online course modules. Each student can use the platform to personalise his/her own learning path by choosing which areas he/she wants to learn about. Students can browse through this global tool, which is accessible from anywhere in the world, and check his/her own level of understanding and acquisition of these concepts, look for internships, access a specific module etc.

Is your university exploring using the Internet to provide online courses to students or to the wider community? Share your experiences in the comments area below.

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