Success stories feature the work of sustainability centres. Success stories highlight sustainability activities and their outcomes, and offer guidance for others seeking to implement a similar activity.
The United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) are six principles designed for educational institutions to integrate sustainability into education. PRME signatory institutions must report at least once every 24 months on their progress implementing the principles.
Interested in joining PRME but intimidated by the thought of putting together your first annual report on progress?
Don’t be, says Christina Meinberg, Associate Director of the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Tools, working groups, and other thematic resources exist to support you in your reporting.
But beyond that, the school-wide process of putting together the Haas School of Business’s first PRME report this past June was much more than an exercise in recounting metrics and following guidelines, Meinberg says. The process revealed the wide range of sustainability and social impact actions taking place at Haas. “The report was really an opportunity to discover and reflect the different voices and activities across the school,” says Meinberg.
Below, Meinberg shares advice for generating a value-adding inaugural PRME Report on Progress.
Once you know that a PRME report is in your future, begin collecting data right away. An early start will save you the stress of attempting to collect figures in the few months before you plan to publish the report.
The first report is typically a baseline report — assessing current activities, establishing baseline figures, and determining the goals and objectives against which you’ll report in the future.
Another useful preparatory activity is thinking through the team structure. Haas divided involvement into four levels:
- Core team. Four to 5 people managed the report: collecting data, conducting interviews, and preparing drafts.
- Review team. Senior managers at Haas created structure, reviewed and contributed content, and had final responsibility for meeting the deadline.
- Report sponsors. A small group was charged with promoting the report at the highest levels within Haas. They also served as liaisons to PRME working groups.
- Content owners. Faculty and staff across Haas provided insights and content for the report, elicited through interviews.
Finally, clearly define your goals for the report and the reporting process. Berkeley-Haas created guiding principles to shape its process around PRME reporting. These are:
- Inclusiveness. Create a collaborative process for information-gathering;
- Transparency. Let the report serve more than a marketing role; allow it to be a frank discussion on both success and challenges;
- Application. See that the report is used as a tool to drive critical thinking, raise awareness internally and externally, and drive performance improvement.
Interviews with content owners provided information for the PRME report. Crucial to the interviews’ success was posing questions that enabled people to speak freely from their own respective lenses.
“The best interviews were the ones where we were primarily listening,” recalls Meinberg. “The reporting team wasn’t there to debate how we do responsible business or what vocabulary we use to talk about the issues. Our goal was to get a holistic sense for how we collectively view sustainability and how we can continue to improve what we do.”
Deciding What to Include
“This was one of the toughest parts about reporting,” says Meinberg, “as the PRME guidelines from the United Nations are very general.” At Haas, the team decided that it made the most sense to report exclusively on the full-time MBA program. Deciding what to include can depend on timing and the report’s pre-determined goals.
Disseminating and Leveraging the Report
After the work of producing your PRME report, don’t forget to leverage it. Numerous groups may be interested in the content. Consider distributing it to:
- Alumni. “Many alumni have been impressed, surprised, and inspired to read about how much emphasis there is now on responsible management education at Haas,” recalls Meinberg. “They really valued reading about the school’s sustainability activities, seeing the message from the Dean, and learning more about our defining principles.”
- Prospective Students. Because the report lays out the school’s core values, activities, and objectives, Haas aims to use it in conversations with prospective students. “Outlining your core values can help you attract the right student or the right employee,” says Meinberg. “It gives you a starting place for opening up a conversation about fit.”
- New Prospective Partners. The report can also communicate to new prospective partners your school’s focus. “[Now that our report is live], those who are focused on social impact at Berkeley-Haas are spending less time explaining who we are and more time having focused conversations with individuals in the areas where we’d like to expand and grow.”
Attitude is Everything
While these tips should make the reporting process smoother and more rewarding, Meinberg also urges reporting institutions to focus on the larger benefits of reporting. “Reporting can be the glue that brings ideals and aspirations together, and drives accountability for seeing them through. At their best, centres and institutes can collaborate and build community across the university. Reporting of this nature can inspire that kind of community.”
Review the Berkeley-Haas School of Business first PRME report. For more information on the Centre for Responsible Business, contact Christina Meinberg or visit http://responsiblebusiness.haas.berkeley.edu.