Srikumar Misra, Founder and CEO of Milk Mantra and a guest speaker at ESSEC Asia-Pacific, believes that sustainability is more of an afterthought. The reason? “We tend to look at social businesses as having a certain set of objectives, and businesses with growth goals that are pursuing financial metrics, as having different ones.”
Business schools need to take initiatives to change the narrative.“It’s in everybody’s interest that sustainability is understood and taught in business schools, so when students go out into the real world, they understand what they need to do,” asserts Constant Van Aerschot from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Results may not be instant, but Misra has faith that the seeds sown will eventually take root. After all, back when he was a student in the business school, there were no modules catered specifically to sustainability. It was through a class on governance that he was first introduced to the concepts.
“The readings and thoughts stayed with me, and later in life, I began to understand how important it is."
“The readings and thoughts stayed with me, and later in life, I began to understand how important it is,” he muses.
It is also important to remember that change is not only created by leaders of a business, Van Aerschot says. “Employees are the number one stakeholder of a company” and have a significant influence on how a business conducts its operations, he explains.
For example, “Shell stopped drilling in the Arctic because it would upset employees if they did. Unilever gets two million applicants a year, simply because they are seen as a more sustainable company.”
Read the five-part feature on the Responsible Leadership and Sustainability course.