All major corporations are expected to account for their environmental and social footprint. This is carried out through a diverse set of standards, frameworks, and metrics related to what is referred to as an ESG (environment, social, governance) report. Such reporting enables corporations to better manage their contributions to the attainment of the United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Tarun Anand, Chairman, Universal Business School, India's first Green Business School, talks about how this mindset change towards sustainability has to begin at the management education stage. He backs it up by being India's first B School in India to put out an ESG report of its own.
In June 2021, India's premier credit rating agency CRISIL Ltd, launched its environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores for 225 companies, across 18 sectors in India. Unsurprisingly, the analysis showed that companies with the highest ESG score within a sector outperform the sector average by nearly 9 points because of significantly better performance on three fronts – environmental parameters, overall disclosures, and sustainability practices.
However, Universal Business School has emerged as a disruptor in the SDG landscape, by being the first business school in India to launch its ESG report, disclosing its environmental and social footprint. This is significant because, in the past, business schools have only guided how these reports are to be written. For example, Harvard Business School has written a series of working papers on how the ESG reports of corporations need to get better.
At a time when sustainability has stopped being about words and needs proper backing up with action, India’s Universal Business School's first-ever ESG report states as follows-
70% of the total energy utilised by the campus comes from the solar park and rooftop systems.
The campus is home to 16 acres of green zone habitat spread across the property. The property is dedicated to various flora and fauna, including frog species, snakes, woodpeckers, butterflies, and more than 7500 plant species.
The campus has 3 water harvesting ponds on 2 acres of land and 3 waste management plants.
Speaking about the report, Tarun Anand, Chairman, Universal Business School, says, "Mindset change has to begin at the management education stage. With this ESG report, we wish to embrace the concept of sustainability in totality. If businesses are to transform themselves and become ecologically sustainable (as well as inclusive), it is the management students of today who can achieve it. Ecological responsibility has to be integrated into every business school's curriculum and the faculty itself has to be immersed in sustainable thinking - in order to be able to transfer the knowledge."
The ESG report also highlights some of the noteworthy social initiatives taken by the students and faculty towards fostering social wellbeing and inclusion. For example, Universal Business School has partnered with ENACTUS, an international non-profit organisation, providing eyeglasses to more than 500 older adults suffering from blindness. The students have trained more than 500 local tribal children in various health and hygiene activities in collaboration with local NGOs and so on.
The report also covers effective governance. "We have equal representation of female and male faculty members. In our administrative department, we have 40% female staff, besides female department heads and directors," shares Dr Asha Bhatia, Director - Research and Faculty in-charge of ENACTUS at UBS.