Dear Friends of PRME,
One year has passed since I stepped into the role as Head of PRME on 1 May 2020. I am sincerely grateful to look back on the past year’s huge support from you all on resetting PRME. Our collective journey to transform management education has never been more important and – I am happy to say – has never had more momentum. In the midst of a global pandemic, urgent environmental disasters and increasing inequalities on all fronts in the world, we experience dedicated support for PRME and our mission to transform business by transforming how business is taught. And let me just state that I am truly impressed by the many ideas, hours and activities that have been happening in the PRME Chapters, the PRME Working Groups, and the PRME Champions over the past year. So many of you have invested so much of your expertise, competence and capacity to further push the bar to change the way we teach management. It is particularly encouraging to see how disciplines across the spectrum of business school departments and university faculties are directing more strategies, policies and action toward increasing the level of engagement of our students in bringing societal betterment to the center of our curriculum and educational training.
With that said, on the positive note of our common journey, please let me also state that 2020 has been during an ‘annus horribilis’, as UN Secretary-General Guterres said, and that in some parts of the world, the situation remains today truly horrible and challenging. I would like to express my sincere sympathy for all of our colleagues who are still suffering from the many losses of family and friends due to COVID-19.
Looking back at the past twelve months I would like to summarize a few highlights from the work toward a systematic implementation of the recommendations from the PRME Strategy Review 2019. A lot has happened, and I will in this Message bring to you the ten most significant ones.
First, new PRME Board. By June 2020, following the impactful advice from the PRME Interim Management Council, chaired by Danica Purg, President of IEDC Bled School of Management and CEEMAN (Slovenia), a new global PRME Board with sixteen distinguished deans, professors, global leadership education experts, and a student was established. The global PRME Board is chaired by Dean at INSEAD Ilian Mihov (Singapore/France). The PRME Board is established with two permanent committees – a Nominations and Governance Committee and a Finance and Risk Committee. The Nominations and Governance Committee has been working with the Board in 2020-2021 on revising, updating, and developing a new Governance Policy and Board ToR to be published in June 2021.
Second, strengthened and growing PRME Chapters. The PRME Board appointed four PRME Chapter Chairs to create the PRME Chapter Review Sub-Committee under the leadership of PRME Chapter DACH Chair, Lisa Fröhlich (CBS International Business School, Germany), which led a review of PRME Chapter governance documents. Accordingly, the PRME Chapter MoU was reviewed, redesigned, and a new PRME Global Chapter Council has been established following a global nomination and appointment process. PRME Regional Chapters are the backbone of PRME, so the work of the Chapter Review Sub-Committee in the Fall of 2020 was an important impetus for PRME’s future growth and development. Successfully, in 2021, four new PRME Regional Chapters have been established: Africa, Iberia, Poland and China. We are at the same time exploring how to re-establish the PRME Chapters MENA and ASEAN+ as well as establishing new efforts in the Euro-Asia region. In October 2020, we organized the 1st PRME Global Chapter Forum with the purpose of creating a space for PRME Chapters to exchange knowledge across the world. It was very well received, and we will repeat the success in 2021.
Third is in the planning to also revise PRME Working Groups. In 2021, the PRME Working Group on Business and Human Rights was relaunched under new leadership of internationally recognized professors in this field from New York University and University of Geneva, with the ambition of having a more robust integration of human rights topics into the business school curriculum. Also, a new Working Group on Sustainable Finance is in the making. A revision process of PRME Working Groups is anticipated to follow the strategy operationalization, that is being planned and will take place in a consultative process with regional inputs from September 2021 until spring 2022.
Fourth, another ‘good news’ is that the PRME Secretariat has agreed, in 2021, with the UN Global Compact to organize all qualifying higher education institutions in the UN Global Compact to PRME. This means that PRME will be the one entry point for all Higher Education Institutions interested in engaging with the work of the UN Global Compact, the Principles and the SDGs. This will potentially result in a small but significant growth for PRME of around 200 new Signatories, allowing PRME to grow to 1,000 Signatories across 100+ countries. Also, we agreed with the UN Global Compact to invite some PRME Working Group officials to engage with the UN Global Compact topical initiatives. This opens exciting venues for how PRME business schools and UN Global Compact businesses can collaborate to create collective impact. One first major successful step was taken at the Annual Local Network Forum in May where PRME hosted two workshops with Global Compact Networks and PRME Chapters, Working Groups and Champions, with nearly one hundred participants from the two communities.
Fifth, PRME Global Forum on 16-17 June (PRME’s annual flagship conference) shares a registration webpage and online conference platform with the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2021 in order to integrate the two flagship events and foster more engagement between academia and business. In 2020 we managed to have more than 1,000 participants with both Western and Eastern Hemisphere sessions, and this year we are expecting even more participants with a spectacular program.
Sixth. Following recommendations from the 2019 Strategic Review, the PRME Secretariat has focused even more on student engagement. On 16 June at the PRME Global Forum, with the support from Sophie Charrois, President, oikos, and PRME Board Member (Switzerland), we are launching a new initiative called PRME Global Students (PGS) . This is a student-driven initiative with a steering committee comprised of student leaders across six continents. The basic idea is for PRME to focus more on student agency. By providing a global infrastructure across individual PRME Signatories, we want to create a space for students from different geographical spaces of the world to meet, collaborate, compete, challenge and help each other. I am very excited about the potential prospects of this initiative.
Seventh. In line with the 2019 Strategic Review recommendations, a new SIP Impact Sub-Committee (Sharing Information on Progress Report) created and approved by the PRME Board on 30 November 2020, is working on new SIP Guidelines. This is an initiative of strategic importance and a team of fourteen individuals from the PRME global community works under the leadership of Wilfred Mijnhardt, Rotterdam School of Management (The Netherlands) to support and provide PRME Signatories with inspiration to make the SIP Reporting a learning journey as well as a product that helps surface more precise SDG goal-setting and a more thorough, easier and ‘open science’ recording system on activities and impact on global prosperity and sustainable development in the Decade of Action.
Eight. One of the major PRME Board decisions over the past year was to revise the PRME Signatory Model and move from a Voluntary Fee Model, with Basic (non-paying) and Advanced (paying) Signatories, to a Mandatory Single-Fee Model,
with only one category of Signatories beginning in 2021. The decision was based on the PRME Strategic Review 2019 recommendation and supported with careful analysis by the PRME Board Finance and Risk Committee, chaired by Andrew Main Wilson, CEO of AMBA (United Kingdom). As in previous years, fees are charged annually as the PRME Annual Service Fee. This decision came after years of careful and considerate deliberation with Signatories, partners, and other key stakeholders. It is widely agreed that such a transition is the fairest route for all Signatories and is essential for the stability and future prosperity of the initiative and its constituents. It is very encouraging to see the results of the PRME Board’s Mandatory Fee decision in a few numbers:
- In 2019, 35 % of PRME signatories paid the annual fee.
- In 2020, 43 % of PRME signatories paid the annual fee.
- In 2021, with the new mandatory fee model, over 50% of PRME signatories have paid the annual fees within the first five months of 2021 - and before the rollout of individual follow-ups.
Ninth. PRME Strategy Action Coordination Process 2021-2002. To create PRME as a truly globally united movement, there is a need for us to achieve a better understanding of who we are and what we want and can achieve locally, regionally and globally. This is not an easy task across geographies and socio-political contexts. With a UN mandate, we want to be inclusive while at the same time being inspiring and setting the bar higher for our individual and collective impact. The PRME Board has agreed on a consultative process facilitated pro bono by VIVA Idea’s expert team, led by Urs Jäger, PRME Board Member, PRME Champion representative and Professor at INCAE Business School (Costa Rica) and St. Gallen (Switzerland). VIVA Idea will generously bring the capacity to carry out this ambitious project in 2021-2022. A first meeting in May invited PRME constituencies to discuss the consultative process.
Finally, the tenth
issue concerns PRME communications. As you may have noted, the PRME Secretariat is working hard to engage you, the community, much more in the global communications which are intended to inform and engage. This is central. After all, in communications we keep united. Not necessarily in agreement. But united. We launched a new PRME website one year ago. This implied that today all Chapter Chairs and Working Group Chairs have direct access to update their respective spaces to inform the global community about new action locally and regionally, as requested by the community. Also, a number of PRME Signatory faculty have been invited as ‘PRME Twitter Voices’, and a number of students as ‘PRME Instagram Voices’ and at PRME Global Forum 2021 we will launch the new PRME BLOG Editorial Board with a global and dedicated team of international scholars who by the leadership of Professors of Responsible Management Education Lars Moratis and Frans Melissen, Antwerp School of Management (Belgium) and Breda University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands) will invite cutting-edge blog posts on responsible management education with a new, slightly activist streak.
I hope that you, like me, remain immensely proud and supportive of PRME and our collective journey ahead. There is much to be positive about. PRME was set into existence in 2007 with a noble mission that still holds. But there is also a lot of work ahead of us and we need to work together to transform management education and thus put environmental and societal betterment at the core of what we do. I am optimistic about our collective journey towards local, regional and collective impact. And I hope for your continued support of PRME.