A certain theme in MBA admissions started as a whisper and over the years has increased in volume to a roar: Sustainable development and corporate social responsibility are becoming more and more important in business school and on the professional scene.
Since 2001 the Aspen Institute’s “Beyond Grey Pinstripes” alternative ranking of MBA programs has ranked MBA programs for their commitment to integrating issues of social and environmental stewardship into their curricula and research. But it is no longer just BGP.
The MBA Tour announced recently that most top universities are incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, demand for these topics is not just driven by idealistic students; hard-nosed businesspeople are demanding managers knowledgeable in these areas. “At no other time in history has the recognition of the critical importance of global responsibility to society and the planet been as great a focus with executives. Corporations no longer have profit as their sole bottom line. Human capital and natural capital now join monetary gain as indicators of success.”
I admit I was (and probably still am) skeptical of the idea that corporations are not using profit as their primary bottom line. Return on investment is a tried and true measure of executive success and responsibility. I also can’t help but remember that in the days of the dot-com insanity, I read articles and press releases about eyeballs and clicks replacing revenue and profit as measures of business success. They did, and the aftermath wasn’t pretty.
Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Renault’s Carl Ghosn has teamed up with Israel’s Shai Agassi to mass produce electric cars in 2011 for the Israeli market. Both these men are savvy enough to keep their eye on the bottom line and concerned enough to care about the greater good. Perhaps that duality is the key to corporate responsibility.
For an interesting take on corporate responsibility, please see the video at the Forte Foundation called “Women in Business.”
To meet with schools and discuss the elements of their program that incorporate CSR and sustainability, check out the MBA Tour in:
- Washington, D.C. Feb. 7
- New York City Feb. 9
- San Francisco Feb. 12