16 May 2008
Corporate social responsibility is not just a fad. Society’s demand for CSR is unlikely to diminish. In fact, companies are finding that CSR is absolutely necessary for doing business. This issue has become an essential part of the competitive strategies of many companies. While it may be true that the business community initially became interested in CSR for marketing reasons, it is now clear that companies must show more than mere aesthetic concern in their relations with the environment, labour laws and human rights. Companies of the 21st century must find a way to introduce compatibility and workplace-equality policies and properly manage diversity. Turning a blind eye to all these expectations may in some cases invite fines, cause a drop in sales, reduce employee motivation and create obstacles to attracting talent. In short, it can cause great harm to a company.
Companies – in particular, their executives and leaders – are aware of this, but it is not easy to play by these new rules. Companies must address the demands of various interest groups, each with its own special characteristics and viewpoints. Shareholders demand profits, but not at any cost – for example, many draw the line at hiring child labour in developing countries. Customers want an affordable, high-quality product that is energy-efficient and whose production process does not cause pollution. And, in exchange for high productivity, employees want to work at companies that allow them to balance their professional and personal lives and enjoy flexible schedules.
Senior executives therefore need to learn how to protect their companies and brands from the backlash that can result from improper management of CSR. ESADE Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business have jointly designed an Executive Education programme that responds to this need: ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategic Integration and Competitiveness’. Moreover, these schools are the top institutions in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking on CSR, one more reason for that collaboration is a success. This course, to be taught at ESADE’s Barcelona campus on 26th, 27th and 28th March 2008, will involve faculty from both business schools. This partnership lends significant added value to the programme, in terms of both academic quality and exposure to best practices.
The debate on CSR has thus far revolved around the definition and limits of the concept. However, companies are now pushing business schools to address specific questions, develop action plans and provide examples of corporate policies that have obtained good results for society, for interest groups and for the companies themselves.
One goal of this course, therefore, is to show executives that companies can simultaneously create economic and social value, thereby improving their relationships with all stakeholders and adapting to the new demands. Over the course of the programme, faculty from ESADE and Stanford will explain how collaboration with NGOs can be a strategy for success, rather than mere philanthropy. The programme will also teach participants how to analyse and identify the new risks and opportunities that CSR programmes present and how to transform the CSR philosophy into effective business practice.
In all of its education programmes, ESADE requires its students to take subjects on CSR. The business school holds the view that companies must rethink their way of doing business and incorporate social responsibility, business ethics and sustainability criteria throughout the value chain. In fact, these elements can help companies to innovate, to develop better relations with internal and external interest groups, and to improve brand perception.
ESADE also helps organise the annual colloquium of the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS). The sixth edition of this event was held in Barcelona in September 2007, addressing the new global governance paradigm and exploring the role that business will play in it. Over 250 executives, scholars and social leaders came together for this colloquium.
Given the current focus on CSR-related issues, the joint ESADE-Stanford programme offers clear benefits to both the participants and the organisations they represent.
The course offers participants the chance to study key concepts and acquire essential knowledge that will allow them to occupy general management positions. Since social and environmental issues have become essential to business strategy, knowledge of these topics implies significant added value for executives. Moreover, the case studies and success stories presented in the course illustrate principles that participants will be able to apply immediately in their own organisations. This ensures that the knowledge they acquire will have a practical application.
The programme offers clear benefits to companies, as well. Participants will have the chance to share experiences and confirm the effectiveness of the ideas presented by talking to professionals who work in similar areas. The course aims to transmit a proactive vision that supports the development of competitive advantages based on innovation and leadership. Additionally, companies are allowed to enrol more than one participant in the course. Co-workers will have the chance to work together to study their employer’s particular situation and develop solutions that can be applied upon returning to work.
Experts in CSR
The course will be taught by the following experts: Daniel Arenas, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at ESADE; William Barnett, Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy and Organisations at Stanford; Ignasi Carreras, Director of the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE; Hau Lee, Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at Stanford; Josep María Lozano, Professor of Social Sciences at ESADE and Xavier Mendoza, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Public Management at ESADE.
Founded in 1958, ESADE has campuses in Barcelona, Madrid and Buenos Aires, and has established collaboration agreements with over 100 universities and business schools worldwide. Each year, more than 6,000 students participate in the Executive Education and MBA programmes through ESADE Business School, as well as undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD programmes in Law and Business Administration at ESADE’s University Faculties. In recognition of its clear international vocation, The Wall Street Journal ranked ESADE as the world’s top business school in 2006 and 2007. ESADE currently has a network of 28,000 alumni occupying positions of responsibility in enterprises around the globe.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business was founded in 1925 and is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Its faculty include three Nobel laureates and it is currently one of the world’s top executive education centres. Since its inception, it has stood out for its constant innovation and internationally recognised research capacity.