Business School Lausanne attended the World Economic Forum in Davos for the first time this year. One of the events we participated in was a high-level dinner – hosted by Corporate Knights and U.N. PRME – where business and management school deans, together with business executives, discussed the urgent imperative of updating business education to ensure it is “fit-for-purpose” to meet the challenges and increased expectations of business leaders in the 21st century.
The full outcome statement, to which all participants contributed, is reproduced in full below. As a consequence, PRME and Corporate Knights will begin reaching out to business school ranking bodies, in order to seek necessary changes to their ranking criteria to account for engagement with the SDGs and other sustainability topics.
BSL is proud to be one of these champions, offering inspirational ideas for the education of the future generation of leaders.
Joint statement issued by the participants
We recognize that businesses are vital to solving our most important problems and that business and management schools have a special role to support this calling that goes well beyond fading mantras of shareholder primacy. This is not only important for the health of society and our planet, but essential for the legitimacy of business.
We commit to instilling a holistic purpose of business in future leaders, ensuring they are equipped with the skills, tools and values to build a more inclusive and prosperous society in synch with our natural world.
To be successful in this re-alignment, the holistic role and potential of business in society must come in from the periphery to pervade everything we teach and do at our institutions.
We have seen significant progress over the past decade, with research showing over two-thirds of the Financial Times top 100 ranked MBA cohort now integrate a holistic purpose of business into at least one core course, while business faculty research related to the Sustainable Development Goals has increased markedly, numbering 5000 published articles in the past year. Further, we are encouraged by a growing number of institutions which are embracing the Principles for Responsible Management Education.
And we must pick up the pace with a rapid—rather than incremental—transformation of our institutions, our research, societal engagement and curricula to develop leaders who are up to the challenge of making business a force for good in the world. Walking the talk will re-establish our credibility as transformative educators.
We invite others in the business and management school ecosystem including educational providers and leading business school rankings to join us in this essential re-boot of business education in the 21st century.
What is PRME: The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) is a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world, and to equip today’s business students with the understanding and ability to deliver change tomorrow. As a voluntary initiative with over 650 signatories worldwide, PRME has become the largest organised relationship between the United Nations and management-related higher education institutions. Working through a set of Six Principles, PRME engages business and management schools to ensure they provide future leaders with the skills needed to balance economic and sustainability goals, while drawing attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aligning academic institutions with the work of the UN Global Compact.