The University of Bradford School of Management put sustainability in the workplace under the spotlight at a recent workshop and asked students, academics and professionals what skills, attributes and characteristics are needed for the future? In the second blog about the event, student Yuki Misaki, who is an MBA student, reports on the event.
As a student learning business, I’d say the Working in the Context of Sustainability, Ethics and CSR workshop is something everyone should get involved in no matter what your major is. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability and corporate ethics is becoming something that every business should now be working towards.
This workshop can mainly be separated into two parts; one is lectures from managers or directors of CSR in various corporations and another is a group discussion about CSR with students, professors and business persons.
As for the first part, the lectures from CSR managers, it gave unique insights into the reality of CSR in business situations.
CSR can be at the heart of business success
The first thing that struck me was that the best companies in UK are the ones which are devoted to CSR the most. This idea suggests that CSR is not just a cost centre for companies, which wastes their profits, but actually it can be a driver for companies to prosper long-term.
For example, food waste is both a cost for retail companies and also harmful for the environment. So, CSR strategies for reducing waste of foods can be an effective operation to reduce both burdens on corporate profits and the environment.
Secondly, through the lectures I was able to gain an understanding of how ordinary companies regard CSR. Though CSR can be a cost-buster, it is still underestimated or misunderstood by some companies.
My previous company had a CSR department, yet made little of it. It was just a sub-sector of a whole business, though the company was listed in the first section of the Tokyo stock market and most of its investors and customers were conscious of the need for CSR.
This tells me we still face challenges in making companies aware of the importance and benefit of CSR and in making companies implement CSR activities. In some cases it could be that corporates just use CSR as an appeal for investors and it ends up as a temporary action.
Therefore, just like Morrisons explained in its lecture, it is crucial that CSR activities are fixed into a corporate strategy so that they can be implemented in the long-term, leading to sustainability.
Understanding corporate social responsibility
The workshop in the second part of the event also proved to be invaluable. Since every single corporate action could be related to environmental issues, CSR sometimes can become an overwhelming subject.
Thanks to the workshop, we were able to tackle a fundamental question: “What is CSR and what aspects are important for CSR?” It enabled us all to make our thinking clearer and more organised.
Also, the structure of workshop was quite stimulating. In the beginning, participants were categorised into groups of similar expertise such as students, professors and business people, so that we could firstly discuss our thoughts with like-minded people.
The participants were then mixed with other members with different positions which brought me a new perspective of CSR from different standpoints. In addition, the discussion was useful also because it enabled us all to expand our knowledge, clarify any uncertainty of CSR and integrate our knowledge.
In conclusion, if you majored in CSR, this would be a must for your learning. If you did not, still this workshop could be a chance for you to broaden your view for business and have an interaction with people with various backgrounds.
This is a subject that continues to evolve and grow in importance and it would be great to hear your thoughts on the role of CSR in business in the comments below.