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Among those institutions is the Schulich School of Business at York University, Canada – one of the first schools in the world to offer an MBA with a specialisation in sustainability – which has been recognised numerous times by the business and society magazine Corporate Knights as the top venue for responsible business programmes.
With a faculty of world-leading business and sustainability researchers, an MBA at the university can include topics such as sustainability strategy, social entrepreneurship and social-impact finance.
In a 2015 find-mba.com article, Andrew Crane, director for the Center of Excellence in Responsible Business at York University, said, “More students now see the general relevance of viewing strategy through the lens of sustainability.
“The attention to sustainability has grown and the challenges we face are getting bigger. We are not solving them any time soon, so the interest is going to continue.”
He commented that the university receives many marketing, finance and accounting students who want to understand the issues surrounding sustainability just as thoroughly as those wanting to become sustainability specialists or intending to run non-profit organisations.
The depth of sustainability topics covered in different MBA programmes can vary tremendously from one institution to the next, with some courses only highlighting environmental elements on top of traditional MBA curricula while others, such as those in the United States, offer what are known as green MBAs.
Examples of green MBAs are the
MBA in Energy and Environment at Duke University, MBA in Environmental Science at Loyola University Chicago and a joint MBA programme with a Master of Environment Management or Master of Forestry at Yale University.
Such specialised MBA programmes may not have found their way to our shores but the issue of sustainability is no doubt a current and growing issue discussed in local programmes.
Companies can no longer be ignorant to the way they conduct their day-to-day operations as they are constantly scrutinised and pressured by stakeholders, including their own staff as well as the communities who may be affected by issues such as irresponsible waste disposal, depletion of surrounding natural habitat and greenery, sound or air pollution, and the rise of motorised traffic in the vicinity.
Businesses of the modern age need to be proactive in all operations and be mindful of the social consequences of production and supply chain processes.
The important point every business must understand is that the issue of being environmentally and socially conscious should not be considered a matter of social responsibility but an important factor that can jeopardise the reputation of the company and, in the long run, its viability as a successful business.
It is also crucial for companies to realise that stakeholders can see through blatant efforts of greenwashing and should thus have a genuine interest in maintaining the well-being of everyone involved and the ecosystem.
Initiator and disciplinarian
MBA graduates of today need to be sensitive to the actions and procedures of their respective organisations and be key initiators to introduce carefully crafted strategies to ensure daily operations meet the necessary economic, social and environmental standards.
Among the things MBA graduates are expected to accomplish at the economic level are streamlining daily operations, reducing the waste of resources, having better supply chain management, introducing cost-cutting measures, adhering to industry regulations, maintaining quality control, maximising productivity without compromising quality, and ensuring the availability of required funds and technology.
In relation to the natural environment, the danger many companies face is to claim a list of eco-sensitive measures, only to be deemed as corporate greenwashing by stakeholders.
It is worse when companies are caught for dishonesty, as was German automaker Volkswagen that is infamous for the biggest scandal in recent years for installing hardware in cars designed to cheat nitrous oxide emissions tests and for falsely reporting carbon dioxide emissions.
Not only were the cars displaying lowered emission results, they were spewing higher amounts of pollutants than legally allowed.
The case was all the more alarming as the automaker has always prided itself as a champion of corporate responsibility and topped the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the most sustainable carmaker.
Japanese electroni s Toshiba, on the ot r social context – th com have inflated net o (RM4.337bil) over ever
A report filed to th Tokyo St claims a broken cor ra cultur , compan had set unreal stic targe employe were discourage f om questioni the actions of b s s The president nd chief execu eof er wer reportedl a are of the o statement.
The Guar an claims Tos ba’s share prices dropped by 0% i 201 an early 7,000 workers were dismissed as part of the postscandal restructuring process.
The transferable skills taught in an MBA has always been the qualification’s key strength and the reason for the degree’s continuous existence and popularity.
Now, with the triple bottom line approach mouldi ee professionals w ll e better prepare guide their companies by navigating through economic, social and environmental obstacles while also avoiding possible pitfalls, media backlash and legal complications.
Given the changing dynamics of the working world, universities both locally and abroad are quite rightly adapting to the times and, therefore, maintaining the degree’s relevance.