In a comment, David Grayson, director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, points out that business schools are late in discovering – and acting on – the need to develop sustainability segments in their offerings.
Grayson cites a report by Accenture for the 2010 United Nations Global Compact study of CEOs, which found that 93 percent of global CEOs believe that sustainability issues will be critical to the future success of their business – and 96 percent said sustainability issues should be fully integrated into the strategy and operations of a company.
He says, however, that business schools are surprisingly slow to spot the extent of what he calls a sustainability revolution and the challenges and opportunities it creates. Of the more than 10,000 business schools worldwide, only a handful have seized the moment.
Just to quote one of his data points – only 149 schools entered the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Gray Pinstripes biennial rankings.
One reason he gives is revealing, reflecting a structural imperative in academia – among the faculty stars who teach business people.
“Part of the problem is the emphasis for academic career progression on publication in three- or four-starred academic journals that can encourage incremental development of academic theory,” Grayson writes.
Since sustainability and corporate social responsibility require interdisciplinary work, lowering the silos of traditional management disciplines, these concepts fit badly with the career requirements of the academic staff at the business schools.
Can the answer be that simple?
I wonder. Is it not possible that the measurables of business success seen through a stakeholder lens – which is what you need to assess sustainability progress – are still seen as too soft and imprecise for business education? Because they are still, hand on heart, still seen as too soft and imprecise by most corporations?
Be that as it may, we clearly have our work cut out for us if we believe that business would be more successful on a number of measures – from risk management over brand appeal to product loyalty – if it practiced triple bottom line approaches and measured environmental and social as well as economic impact and performance.
And in order for that to happen, business schools would have to start teaching this sort of thinking.
As the world turns on trust, practicing good sustainability is good business. So we should talk to the HR colleagues who commission training programs, just as a start.
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