By Amy Dinh, CRB Program ManagerPRME

Christina Meinberg, Associate Director and Co-Interim Executive Director of the Center for Responsible Business (CRB), is spearheading the effort to create Berkeley-Haas’ first annual PRME report, which will be shared publicly early next month.  Here, several of its contributors talk about the importance of reporting and the significance of Berkeley-Haas’ first report. 

Berkeley-Haas became a proud signatory of the U.N. Principles for Responsible Management in Education (PRME) in June 2012.  This process commits the school not only to a set of six PRME principles that are designed to guide responsible management education, but also to publicly and transparently reporting its progress in implementing them.

Launched under the leadership of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007, the intention behind PRME is to place social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and ethics at the top of the agenda within management education and inspire and advance responsible management education, research, and thought leadership globally.  “As an institution of higher learning involved in the education of current and future managers, we have voluntarily chosen to embark upon a continuous process of improvement, reporting to our stakeholders and exchanging effective practices with other schools,” says Meinberg, who is directing the PRME reporting process.

A Collaborative Effort to Increase Transparency and Advance Sustainability

Nivani Govinder (MBA ’14) was selected as the school’s first PRME Fellow.  When she joined the reporting effort, Meinberg and her reporting team had created “defining principles” for Berkeley-Haas’ first report, echoing the school’s four defining principles.  One of the principles is “inclusiveness”.  “We have made a conscious effort to engage numerous faculty and staff across all departments, in the spirit of making this report inclusive and thorough,” Govinder recaps.   “We explored many research projects, student activities and other initiatives beyond CRB’s programs, and what we initially thought would be a 10-page report rapidly grew into a more complex project due to the tremendous amount of information that was provided to us by individuals across the school and UC Berkeley campus.”

CRB alumni board member Jesse Nishinaga (MBA ’10) works on corporate sustainability reports in his role at BSR and has been involved in the Berkeley-Haas PRME process as a reviewer.  “The PRME report is a way for Berkeley-Haas to demonstrate its commitment to integrating social and environmental principles into the core curriculum and overall MBA experience,” stresses Nishinaga.  Govinder agrees, adding, “This encourages business schools to become more creative and innovative in their approach to developing responsible leaders, which in turn develops leaders who are more equipped to handle the constantly evolving issues they will face in the real world.”

“By taking the step to become a signatory, we committed to sharpening our own focus and joining the global conversation about social responsibility and environmental sustainability,” says Meinberg.  “At the same time, only about a fifth of the 530+ signatories are based in the U.S.  We hope that by showing a strong commitment to PRME, we can also encourage other business schools to share their best practices, building a stronger community of responsible business schools.”

Nishinaga also sees Berkeley-Haas as a beacon: “As a preeminent public institution and global leader in business education, Berkeley-Haas has the opportunity to be a role model and exhibit leadership that will push sustainability forward.”

Student-Led Innovation

As a key contributor to Berkeley-Haas’ inaugural report, Govinder has had the opportunity to read numerous reports.  “One of the striking differences I’ve seen in the Haas draft report versus other schools is the extent to which student-led activities, events, and classes are showcased,” she shares.

For example, the report will include stories about how Berkeley-Haas students have taken initiative and lobbied for more PRME-related classes such as the Business Solutions for Global Mega Trends course, which focuses on PRME-related issues such as food and water scarcity, climate change, and wealth distribution.  The report will also highlight a kaleidoscopic range of initiatives launched by students, such as the Global Social Venture Competition, which was started by students in 1999 and is now one of Berkeley-Haas’ flagship events, with participation from business schools around the world.

As she reflects back on interviews with students, staff and faculty over the last six months, Meinberg states that “the great ideas, and the passion for proactively creating the sustainable future we want, are clear.  We are still at the beginning of this process, taking stock of our efforts and the challenges ahead. Our first report will be released in a month, and will serve as a platform for continuing the great discussions that we are having internally, about embedding the PRME principles into the school’s curriculum and culture.”

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