THEME: Sustainable business for the common good: Developing Asia’s leaders for today and tomorrow
(First of Two Parts)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, fellow advocates of and believers in sustainability and sustainable business!
Laying the groundwork: Framework and practice of sustainable business
I will discuss the philosophy and framework of sustainability and sustainable business and provide practical examples through a case study by narrating my own journey of putting life to these frameworks.
I will be drawing from my tenure from 2002 to 2008 as Dean of the De La Salle University Ramon V. del Rosario Sr. Graduate School of Business when the school was housed in the autonomous Professional Schools Inc. I will also refer to my experience in writing in 2009 my dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Business Administration. The title of the dissertation is “The Dynamics of a Mission-Driven Social Responsibility in Management Education at the DLSU Ramon V. del Rosario Sr. Graduate School of Business.”
Six principles of responsible management education and 10 principles of UNGC
Please recall the six (6) principles that make up the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and the ten (10) principles of the UN Global Compact (UNGC).
The UNGC is “the most legitimate social standard for a strategy of long-term enterprise sustainability” and partakes of a universal moral standard. Both constructs are in support of sustainability and sustainable business. I will also endeavor to respond to this forum’s theme, “Sustainable Business for the Common Good: Developing Asia’s Leaders for Today and Tomorrow.”
Each of these 10 Principles is based on concepts established in international agreements: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Labor Organization Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
What is business for? What is management education for? Sustainability provides answers
These Principles could help us answer three basic questions we should ask ourselves when confronted with dilemmas and difficult issues related to business and management education and their respective roles in society: What is business for? What is management education for? Who are the stakeholders of management education?
I offer my own answers to these basic questions, using as a framework, the statement on sustainability of Olav Kjorven, UN Assitant Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the UN Development Program. Incidentally, Kjorven is a key figure in accelerating progress toward the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) and in preparing the post-2015 agenda, according to official reports.
Sustainability was initially articulated within the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, “Our Common Future”. Under present conditions, however, sustainability is not solely an environmental concept, although the promotion, protection and defense of the eco-system is a key element of sustainability.
Kjorven says sustainable development is as much about health, education and jobs, as it is about ecosystems. It is about ever widening inclusion and movement away from decisions that erode democratic space and do not address social inequality, intolerance and violence. Sustainable development is about change that transforms impoverished peoples, communities, and countries into informed, educated, healthy and productive societies. It is about wealth creation that generates equality and opportunity; it is about consumption and production patterns that respect planetary boundaries; it is about increasing tolerance and respect for human rights.
Let me add further a Lasallian dimension to our discussion and share my thoughts with you, as I stated them during the Philippine-British Friendship Week some time back. Allow me also to quote the Rev Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
We see business education and education in general, as never value-neutral. Whether we like it or not, schools do more than merely train technical professionals. Business schools in particular, communicate a set of values regarding economic rationality and human dignity that become part of the foundation of the managerial mind-set, and we communicate these either by consciously teaching it, or not teaching it. That is, we define a thing by saying what it is or what it is not. We teach social responsibility by what we say about it and also what we fail to say about it. Unless we intentionally attempt to close the gap between the experience of the business students and the poor, there will always be a vacuum in the way we teach our students to be socially responsible. ‘We cannot hope to have students with the heart of the poor if in the course of their formation, we have not let the reality of this world, especially the plight, the struggles as well as the hopes of the marginalized into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage constructively in using what they learn in class. ‘They should learn to perceive things, judge, choose and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.
Why do we make a special plea for the poor, the disadvantaged, the marginalized and the oppressed, or the lost, the last and the least?
Poverty eradication, one of the main objectives of the MDG, should be, together with low productivity, the concern of management education.
In 2008, the CEEMAN (Central and Eastern European Management Association) conducted a survey that had 154 individuals from 33 countries responding to describe commitments by faculty and administrators to the issue of poverty alleviation in management education. Major findings from the 2008 CEEMAN survey were:
The issue of global poverty was a legitimate topic for management education;
Courses on Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics were said to be the most logical “homes” for this discussion; yet
Innovations in teaching about global poverty were occurring in business courses outside of the ethics and corporate social responsibility course.
Findings two and three are to be discussed in another part of this presentation.
At any rate, in May/June 2010, a follow up to the 2008 survey was conducted to explore more fully, point three from the initial CEEMAN survey. We shall share the findings of this latest survey when we discuss our recommendations.
Improving the condition of mankind; the goal of business and management education
Considering Kjorven’s concept of sustainable development, one can only say, perhaps simplistically, that the purpose of management education, in fact, all education and business is to improve the condition of mankind. We therefore assert that responsible management education is synonymous with good governance, which is the prudent use of power and authority.
We associate ourselves with the belief of others that business as steward or custodian of society must earn the right to operate in communities where they ply their trade. In exchange for that right to operate, businesses are accountable to their employees, suppliers, shareholders and society in general to remain viable. We say that failure to comply with its obligations endangers the business’ ability to enhance shareholder value and, more important, improve the condition of mankind.
In 2003, inspired by St. John Baptist De La Salle’s vision for all Christian Brothers’ schools, influenced by our unique role to be “our brothers’ keeper” and in an effort to live out our unconditional love for our country, we, together with Ms. Maribel Gaite and others of similar mind, established the Center for Social Responsibility for Human Development (CSRHD) in the DLSU GSB PSI.
Establishing the CSRHD and defining its vision, mission, core philosophy and strategies
The Center’s vision is to become an interactive facility for the formation of academic professionals and entrepreneurs who are committed to total human development as the socially responsible path to corporate success.
In support of the mission of the DLSPS to develop outstanding professionals and entrepreneurs imbued with humanistic values, the Center envisions itself to become a support facility for integrating into the curriculum, culture and governance, social responsibility and good stewardship for total human development and the well-being of society and the environment.
The Center’s mission was expressed as follows: “The Center aims to develop among GSB students and its other stakeholders, a shift of mindsets from self-interest to the common good and from a solely strategic to a mutually transformative, human development approach to sustainable businesses”.
The Center advocates social responsibility for human development by providing the DLSPS family and stakeholders with opportunities to contribute in the empowerment of communities and organizations and participate in the conduct and dissemination of research in business ethics, social responsibility and integration of Catholic social teaching in business management.
* Core Philosophy
The Center’s core philosophy is anchored on its being part of a Lasallian school and owes much to the ideals and values of St. John Baptist de La Salle in adding a distinctive angle to the CSR discourse—a view of social responsibility not just as an important corporate strategy but as an integral dimension of one’s faith, expressed in zeal for service and communion in mission.
The Center had called on DLS PSI administrators, faculty, students, staff and community partners to develop a clearer understanding of the Catholic social teaching on human dignity, justice, solidarity and the common good and how to put these principles into practice in business management.
* CSRHD Strategies
To fulfill its vision, carry out its mission and live out its core philosophy, the Center’s strategies involves entering into institutional partnerships, doing community outreach and organizational in-reach through volunteerism and service learning.
Shortly after the Center was established in 2003, it entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to implement a business curriculum with focus on CSR. To help carry out the objectives of the PBSP, the Center launched a research conference on CSR entitled “New Trends in Business Ethics and CSR” with Br. Louis de Thomasis, FSC, as keynote speaker.
Guided by St. John Baptist de La Salle’s passion for caring for children at risk, the Center signed a tri-partite MOA with the Oblates of St. Joseph (OSJ) and the Silong Tanglaw Foundation for Street Children, with the GSB and OSJ jointly administering the affairs of Silong Tanglaw.
As part of the Center’s resource build up, we secured a donation of close to P600,000 from the Belville Development for the Don Antonio Vasquez Fund for Human Capital Development. Serving as a Program Adjustment Fund, the donation was used for faculty and student activities (including sports and wellness) not covered by the regular GSB budget.
One of the Center’s most meaningful projects was the assistance it gave to the Artists’ Guild of Sta. Maria (Bulacan) or AGOS (a cooperative of rural artists) in preparing a project proposal that eventually won first place and a grant of several thousand dollars from the World Bank’s Panibagong Paraan Project Competition.
On the research front the Center issued Volume 1 of the De La Salle Journal of Business and Management. The Christmas rummage sale was launched. Proceeds of the sale were used for social amelioration projects, (such as helping the victims of the Southern Leyte landslide).
As a fitting climax to CSRHD’s work prior to reintegration to DLSU-Manila and, the Center melting into the background, the Center was named by the PAASCU accreditors in its official report submitted on March 11, 2006 to then DLSU President, Br. Armin Luistro, as one of the GSB’s beast features and assets.
As a unit, the Center viewed Service Learning as a valuable avenue for helping students work toward the attainment of the learning objective of subjects. We therefore, together with Dr. Louie A. Divinagracia, agreed that a service learning workshop be given to faculty as part of our periodic planning session.
The workshop was to be used not only to discuss how the faculty can integrate the humanistic aspects (ethics, social responsibility, human rights, our other mission values) into the specific course they teach through the service learning but also to begin crafting a course plan on hw to concretely go about this integration, both in terms of content and process. As stated by Ms. Gaite, we believed that how we teach is what we teach hence the importance of addressing all the dimensions of learning (knowledge, skills, attitudes and values or KSAV) and helping our faculty and tasking them with supporting the mission in terms of all four.
(To be concluded tomorrow)