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Henley Business School hosts webinar on Principles for Responsible Management Education ‘Vision and Dialogues’ theme

Kleio Akrivou006

The aim of the event, held on 12 January, was to allow staff and faculty across departments to share their visions on the implementation of PRME, wider sustainability-ethics-responsibility and environmental, social and governance principles.

The webinar offered a way for academics and non-academics to capture these visions and explore how they inform teaching and approaches on key educational agendas and dialogues - a message that was emphasised by Professor John Board, Dean of Henley Business School, who opened by outlining the importance of being committed to PRME within the context of Henley's past tradition, values, practices and newly emerging strategy.

This was followed by a talk from Professor James Walker, Director of Research, on Research in Sustainability and Ethics Responsibility, in which he noted that this event served as a taster for the new Centre for Business Ethics and Sustainability. He added that academics are expected to solve problems by contributing to both knowledge and action, with the COVID-19 pandemic just one example of industry and university experts working together, but cautioned that it was crucial to maintain strong internal communication channels and avoid 'single issue' research without acknowledging the complex interconnection of social and environmental issues.

Next to speak were Dr Woodrow and Dr Schopohl, who delivered a PRME Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report. Together they informed colleagues about Henley's PRME commitments by sharing information on the goals set in the last SIP report and focusing on the progress made on diversity and inclusion.

Professor Akrivou, Professor of Business Ethics and Moral Development and Director of the Centre for Business Ethics and Sustainability, delivered the next talk alongside Dr Richard Nunes, inviting the audience to reflect on the challenges business schools face and responsibility to the current and future environmental, socio-economic and humanistic challenges, both nationally and globally. Professor Akrivou underlined the importance of business school education developing students and graduates with a mind-set of ethical, responsible and ecological sustainability. To do this, she and Dr Nunes suggested that three things were required: a curriculum with a strong ethos of sustainable development goals; fostering a learning environment of questions and challenges to build 'desirable resilience' and developing each student's character and capacity to act as morally and intellectually good professionals.

Dr Naeema Pasha presented on the Henley Hives, an inter-departmental staff engagement project set up to promote a positive working environment for all employees. She emphasised the importance of the staff engagement experience at Henley, citing how the Hives helped draw together experiences and build inter-departmental networks and connections.

Professor Lucy Newton gave a talk focused on applying sustainable development goals when teaching business ethics in undergraduate students. In 2020, the teaching of business ethics moved from an optional third year module to a core part of the second year BSc Business and Management course, which has proven to be popular with students. Professor Newton explained that the module aims to enable students to critically analyse ethical issues that corporate decision-makers face in developing policies about employees, customers and the broader stakeholders by utilising both theory and case studies.

More experiences of teaching ethics were explored by Dr Irene Garnelo-Gomez and Dr Irute Karanicholas, who spoke about two new ethical marketing postgraduate modules that give students a critical view of marketing and its impact on consumers and wider society. Students are encouraged to work with charities and other organisations from the local community by designing a marketing campaign focused on a social/environmental issue. This enables them to explore the link between marketing and sustainability and how to evaluate and implement marketing strategies that promote sustainable products, services and behaviours.

Professor Claire Collins, former Director of Diversity and Inclusion, then spoke about the progress Henley Business School has made in diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by achievement of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in 2020. She presented an action plan, which proposed further initiatives towards the aim of creating a culture of gender equity.

Continuing on this theme, Diversity and Inclusion Lead Maddy Woodman presented to the audience on the topic of empowering people to become internal activists for inclusion. Her talk introduced the audience to the concepts of 'intersectionality', the complex way in which an individual's identity and multiple forms of discrimination combine, overlap or intersect, and 'allyship', an active practice of unlearning and re-evaluation, where a person holding systemic power seeks to end oppressions in solidarity with a group of people who are systemically disempowered.

The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring Director of Alumni and Development Jean-Pierre Choulet; Director of Marketing and Communications Julia Massey; Professor Eamonn D’Arcy, who has been leading and championing sustainability in our Real Estate and Planning department for a number of years; Professor Walker and Professor Collins, chaired by Head of PR, Communications and Content, Cheryl Walmsley. The panel sought to gather thoughts and insights from each panellist’s reflections on Henley’s history and traditions, with opportunities for the audience and other speakers to contribute to the wider dialogue.

Both the audience and panel members spoke positively about the impact of the webinar. Julia Massey, Director of Marketing and Communications at Henley Business School, commented: "It was good to discuss the questions from both an academic and also a business functional perspective. This was yet another example of our collaborative approach at Henley. It also helped demonstrate how business and life are inter-connected, and that Henley is all about 'bringing business to life'."

Professor Kleio Akrivou

Professor of Business Ethics and Moral Development
Published 13 January 2021
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