Sustainability for Competitive Advantage

Sustainable business is good business. 

Businesses operate in a constantly changing ecosystem that features fewer resources, a warmer climate, increased social inequity, as well as more engaged stakeholders and increased transparency. Business leaders must understand how these shifts impact their business and find innovative solutions to societal challenges while maintaining financial performance.

This course is designed to assist students in developing the knowledge, skills, and perspective they need to understand and address environmental and social challenges in business, so that as leaders they reduce risk, create competitive advantage, and develop innovative services, products, and processes, all while building value for society and protecting the planet. Due to a rapidly changing global ecosystem, businesses in the future will face fewer resources, greater demands for transparency, less available water, a warmer climate and societal challenges such as the coronavirus related to growing inequity.  At the risk management level, leaders need to understand how these changing factors can impact their businesses, much as they do for civil conflict, financial panics, and political upheavals.  But as is often the case, new risks create new opportunities: the business leaders who can meet such risks through effective innovation and collaboration will find solutions to these sustainability challenges that meet the needs of society while delivering returns to shareholders.

In this course, students will develop their leadership perspective through the pursuit of six learning objectives:
  • Gaining familiarity with the environmental and social issues affecting business today,
  • Learning how corporate response to these environmental and social issues evolves over time,
  • Developing some of the skills required for leading an organization in this new financial, environmental, social and political environment,
  • Exploring the innovations being developed by corporate leaders in pursuit of sustainability, including in sustainable finance,
  • Gaining familiarity with the latest consumer insight research on sustainability, and
  • Designing a sustainability strategy that will deliver competitive advantage.
This is a multi-disciplinary experiential learning course that is intended to provide broad exposure to the most relevant environmental, social and governance issues impacting business. Through that broad exposure, you will be able to integrate the content knowledge and skills developed into whatever business function you pursue and help develop an effective firm-wide leadership sensibility and a profitable sustainability strategy that is embedded in the corporate strategy.