Business education that promotes ethical leadership, eco-sustainability, and humane business

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Ms K.P. Kanchana, Assistant Professor OB/HR, Jaipuria School of Business, Ghaziabad

Business education is evolving beyond the ken of profitability, career and organizational growth to focus equally on the virtues of ethical leadership, human rights issues, sustainable business, human and ecological well-being, fair labour practices, social sustainability and anti-corruption practices.

Business schools make considerable contribution to human and economic development. Simultaneously, there is a debate about the revamp and realignment of the management education to include components that reflect present-day need to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It’s being asserted that the business education should involve pertinent issues like ethics in management education, development of responsible leaders and designing of the curriculum to inculcate ethics and responsible leadership across all functionalities. To this end, it is important to prepare students with six critical skills:

1. Self-Management Skills

2. Problem Solving Skills

3. Team work

4. Ethical Awareness

5. Communication

6. International Perspective

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Various business schools across the globe such as Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Thunderbird School, Lagos Business School, The Global Education Department of the Financial Times, INCAE Business School (Costa Rica) and St. Gallen University (Switzerland) stood on the common platform during Uniting Business Live to discuss ways to reform business education for larger social and environmental impact. They agreed on four core points to achieve this.

1.  Defining a moral mission 

Business education should define their mission statement and its impact on the achievement of environment friendly objectives which are sustainable. Business Schools influenced by various incentives have moved from teaching-driven to impact-driven approach. Accreditation agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) have come up with the standards which connect mission and societal impact for the accreditation of business schools across globe.  AACSB’s 2020 standards dictate that “accredited schools’ research, teachings and activities, whether internal or external, should have a positive societal impact.”

2) Developing regionally relevant work

Business schools are greatly influenced by region. Hence it is important for sustainable development that business leaders should be skilled to bring ethics in their work within the regional context. B-schools may follow the lead of over 10,000 businesses who have set the right precedent by participating in the UN Global Compact.

3) Integrating sustainability in core business teachings

Grooming ethical business leaders entails integrating the topic of sustainability across all core business teachings. Sustainability should be seen as a transversal theme that runs through all core business skills. Doing so would ensure that management graduates meet requirements of the industry recruiters who look for not just core business skills but also expertise in sustainability.

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4) Measuring impact

It’s important to assess the impact of the program in the development of positive societal mission. There are fundamental set of activities in every business school which need to be measured and compared. Such a measure helps in assessing progress and getting a better context of the positive societal mission.

Business schools should instil necessary skills and qualities in their graduates so that they can aim at SDGs. They should teach that everyone should be treated with dignity, education should help in protecting human rights, recognise their moral duties to experience continual growth. And these responsible ethical leaders should collaborate to work on these following points: 

1. End Poverty
2. End Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Gender Equality

5. Decent Work and Economic Growth
6. Sustainable Cities and Communities
7. Combat Climate change
8. Promote Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
9. Strengthen Partnerships for the Goals
10. Balanced ecosystem 

Inclusion of ethicality in business education requires more than just adding a few subjects on ethics, governance and society in the curriculum. What’s needed is a comprehensive reform to educate technically well-equipped managers to pursue the goals that are best for business, economy and are, at the same time, responsible and sustainable.  

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