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New MBA course teaches students responsible governance

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • Sep 8, 2020
New MBA course teaches students responsible governance

In today’s world, the bottom line isn’t the only measure of success for a company. In fact, the global pandemic has heightened the importance of planning for disruption and change and considering the wider issues of sustainability and responsible behaviour.

That’s why Ivey’s new MBA elective, Responsible Governance, which starts today, comes at an ideal time.

Co-taught by Ivey faculty in Accounting, Finance, and Strategy, it is focused on equipping students with a deeper understanding of how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations factor into the investment process and sound business decision-making.

It’s a message that resonated with Mondira Chowdhury, an MBA ’21 candidate taking the course.

Responsible Governance immediately caught my eye because I want to be a business leader who is mindful of my responsibilities to all stakeholders,” she said. “I love that Ivey wants to steer its students towards leading with a conscience and taking ownership of broader implications, such as the environment and social activism.”

Introducing students to responsible investing

Larry Menor, an associate professor of Operations Management at Ivey and MBA Program Director, said the genesis for the course was a proposal made by RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM) to launch an RBC Responsible Investing Lab pilot at Ivey that engages, educates, and empowers a next generation of business students and investors in responsible investing. The course includes a capstone session, which will focus on new learning materials developed with RBC GAM professionals.

“As an industry leader in responsible investment, RBC GAM has developed a deep understanding of important ESG factors such as corporate governance, and we are delighted to share this expertise with the students at Ivey Business School,” said Andrew Sweeney, Vice-President and Institutional Portfolio Manager, RBC Global Asset Management Inc. “The goal of the course is to bring corporate governance issues to life by analyzing a case study, allowing students to learn first-hand the importance of strong governance and its impact on a company’s performance.”

Pandemic highlights social inequalities

Nadine de Gannes, HBA ’09, Assistant Professor of Managerial Accounting and Control, and Sustainability at Ivey, said ESG concerns were already resonating with investors in corporate North America, but the pandemic has drawn attention to ESG issues previously at the margins. She is one of the faculty members teaching the course, along with Stephen Sapp, Associate Professor of Finance, and Glenn Rowe, Professor of General Management & Strategy.  In particular, de Gannes said furloughs and layoffs during the pandemic will exacerbate the inequalities already rife in our society. Additionally, there is increased attention on diversity and inclusion in organizations. These issues fall under the lens of responsible governance.

Yes, companies can create metrics for increasing diversity. But how do companies ensure meaningful inclusion?,” she said. “Social issues are pressing yet difficult to quantify. When left unresolved, it further threatens social cohesion. Investors are using their voice and their votes to move the needle on ESG. We want our students to be relevant in these efforts, so that they can have a meaningful impact on our society.”

Balanced business decision-making

Sergio Santinelli is aware of how the world is changing. The MBA ’21 candidate said he is taking the course because he wants to learn as a leader how to appropriately balance business decisions by considering their impact on the environment and society.

“For the past years, we have seen an increasing interest in knowing what happened behind the products we consume. However, everything that happened in our society during this year has highlighted the importance of taking a responsible approach,” he said. “I'm expecting this course will help me align the strategies and interests of stakeholders, creating value through responsible practices.”

Careers in ESG

Ivey Career Management will also play a role in helping students to understand the employment opportunities in this space and determining the unique mix of skills, competencies, and knowledge that students would need to build careers in ESG.

Garth Gibbes, Associate Director of Corporate Recruiting & Business Development, Financial Services for Ivey Career Management, said the ESG space is continuing to evolve, and can include how companies respond to climate change, how good they are with water management, how effective their health and safety policies are, how they manage their supply chains, how they treat their workers, and whether they have a corporate culture that builds trust and fosters innovation.

“At Ivey, we have a long history of students building successful careers in the financial-services sector upon completion of their programs,” said Catherine Chandler-Crichlow, Executive Director, Career Management & Corporate Recruiting at Ivey.

“We will be disseminating ESG insights to our corporate partners outside of the financial-services sector; as well as working in partnership with RBC to design and implement an evaluation process to determine the impact that the new course will have on students’ ability to secure career opportunities in the ESG space.”