Thursday, August 07, 2008

"New" or "Old" Green Focus for MBA Students

Polls. We hear results from them nearly all the time. Given that we are in an election year, we will no doubt be bombarded with poll results. Some of them may be useful, some (most) of them will merely provide additional inane and irrelevant data to an already overloaded and distracted populace. Wait a second…where was I? (image from andrewblum.net)
Two recent items focused on the future focus of MBA students caught my attention. One was provided by a fellow BGI classmate (of course) that happens to live in the very cool province of British Columbia, Canada. The other I found on good ol’ Greenbiz. One is a poll, the other is an article. Clearly different items, and revealing in their own ways. I find it fascinating that both of these items target the roll of business in society, focusing on MBA students. It is unclear to me if the poll or the article is keyed toward environmental issues (which, as far as I can tell, certainly falls under the "societal" umbrella). The GreenBiz piece, New Green Focus of Future MBAs, is an article written by a reporter for a website that is dedicated to sustainable business. There will more than likely be some skewing there, especially in the selection of the schools, questions asked, etc.
The Aspen Institute report is a straight up survey, touching some of the major business schools nationally and internationally (well, mostly nationally) including Schulich School of Business at York University in Ontario, Fuqua at Duke University, and Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (among many others).
The main points I took from looking at the two items? The Greenbiz article reinforces the greening of business while the Aspen Institute survey leads me to believe that the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.

Some interesting blurbs from the Aspen Institute's report...
  • Despite recent public discussion of the environment—global warming, alternative energy sources, and the like—students rank the importance of companies having progressive environmental policies near the bottom of the list.
  • Responsible environmental practices also are more important for women than men when considering a potential employer (38% of women vs. 28% of men report these practices are very important.). [I believe the makeup of BGI's student body reflects this observation.]
...and the summary from the Greenbiz article
As more business schools respond to this movement, beefing up their curricula and providing learning opportunities for their students, prospective MBA students will have a bigger pool of programs to choose from and apply to and more career choices as well.

But as Gerde put it, "'What job can I get in sustainability' is a false question. The opportunities are wide-ranging, from sourcing and logistics to renewable energy."

According to a report from Net Impact, the number of CSR jobs that are publicly advertised has gone up by 37 percent since 2004. This reflects a genuine need in the market for managers and senior executives knowledgeable about the environment, who can lead green initiatives and create new profit centers.

In response to this market demand as well as the student mandate to merge their interest in management with their concern for the environment, integrating sustainability concepts into the mainstream courses and adding more green electives will be a major trend focus for these and other schools.
So, I suppose it depends upon who you talk to.

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