Dr Suzanne Young (Head of Department of Management and Marketing) will be a panellist on Governance and Sustainability and leading a stream titled: Sustainability Strategies labour Jobs and Work, during the CR3 + Conference.
All PRME (Principles for Responsible Executive Education) members, the four schools have been working together since 2008, in an effort to exchange ideas, pedagogical processes, curriculum and research in the area of corporative responsibility.
With the support of the Principles for Responsible Executive Education, the conference’s objective is to promote a debate, inspire changes and propose solutions for challenges related to sustainability and governance, interacting and reaching what UNESCO calls “The 5th Pillar of Education:” “Learning to change and to change society.”
More than a need, the strategic adaptation and the governance and sustainability processes are a social demand, manifested by public policies, by the company and by society. Thus, the study of problems and practices related to governance for sustainability becomes essential, and the Conference will be one of the mechanisms to generate knowledge to prompt these discussions.
We sat down to have a chat with Suzanne Young about what sustainability means for management, education, and the day-to-day decision-making process of companies.
- How do you think this focus on sustainability in management has changed the relationship between clients and companies?
Suzanne Young: Companies taking this seriously build better and stronger relationships with a broad range of stakeholders. It is not just shareholders who are important but institutional investors, consumers, media, government, and communities. These companies believe that, in the long term, these relationships will build profitability, long term shareholder value, and minimise risk through the building of these relationships.
- Do you think there is an increased market pressure from regulators and consumers to hold organisations accountable for their actions? If so, how do you think this has affected the management landscape?
Suzanne Young: Yes, there is pressure coming from changing regulatory environment such as changes to ASX Listing Rules and Best Practice Guidelines, there is pressure internationally for changes to laws and codes of governance standards and often, pressure comes from NGOs more than consumers per so. There is even pressure from institutional investors, including superannuation funds. This has resulted in Boards becoming more aware of changing expectations and landscape and of their own responsibilities. Structurally, we find boards putting in place more board subcommittees in areas of sustainability and risk. Plus, risk management is an increasing focus area.
- What are some examples of how managers can take social, economic and environmental factors into account in the everyday decision making process?
Suzanne Young: These factors are increasingly being incorporated into their Risk Management Policies and Management processes. Hence managers incorporate them as they do other risk factors arising from their context into their forecasting of trends, decision making practices, strategy formulation and operating practices. This can be in the form of environmental considerations such as climate change and carbon emissions, land degradation, pollution, reafforestation; social considerations such as supply chain risks in terms of facilitation payments and bribery, labour rights, human rights, child labour, payment of wages, safety in the supply chain and in the use of contractors; and economic such as risk, long-term financial sustainability, and governance considerations including director remuneration, board structure and diversity, risk and audit sub committees, board decision-making.
- How does this translate to university educating? Are there ways to make sure graduates are ready for taking up a leadership role while enjoying a sustainable future?
Suzanne Young: The PRME is a United Nations initiative that provides a framework for Universities and in particular business schools to ensure through their operations that they incorporate responsible management education in their teaching, research, dialogue and partnerships. This is done through ensuring “responsibility’ is part of each course that is offered such as in curriculum, assessments, examples, and incorporation of partnership with business and NGOs. Students become aware of real world problems and are more able to move from university to employment, while being aware of actual business contexts and real world issues business is facing. Subjects have been developed in areas of Sustainability and Global Citizenship, Responsible Leadership, Ethics and Business in Society. In addition to particular subjects, such concepts are built more broadly into examples and assessments in each course.
The 2015 conference will take place at ISAE, in Curitiba, Brazil, from November 11 to 12.
For more information on panels, programs and speakers, visit the 2015 CR3+ website.