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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Bella Pick

Student Blog - "What I learned from tagging Ivey's Case Library for the SDG's"

Sep 20, 2021

Bellapick (1)

Like many people, when I read the IPCC report last week, I felt an instant, yet unmistakable sense of climate doom. In a constantly changing world, it’s hard to determine the best way to move forward. Fortunately, I’ve learned that we’re advancing forward on the right track through my time coding cases and learning about sustainability in action through Ivey Publishing’s case catalogue.

I’ve spent this summer working through Ivey Publishing’s case collection, determining which cases offer valuable lessons on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals , and what cases teach about environmental, social, and governance standards, a growing methodology of reporting standards.

Within a few days of coding, I was shocked by how much the collection has changed since I began my journey at Ivey.

In my HBA1 year, sustainability was something that was rarely discussed. I had a hard time relating to the cases and my classmates. I thought about the world differently, through a lens where profit wasn’t the most important thing, purpose was ultimately what should be strived for in the business world.

In the ensuing two years, the tune of the HBA program has changed. In 2021, over half of the cases published offered some sort of sustainability focus (Exhibits 3-5).

The business world is dynamic and changing, and Ivey is working hard to keep up. It’s no longer merely “nice” to have social purpose in business, it’s necessary in 2021. Students are beginning to recognize this need too, we’re constantly seeing a rapid growth in the cohort size of the sustainability certificate. The certificate was what attracted me to Ivey in the first place; I wanted the opportunity to learn how to disrupt the world of business through purpose.

I’m seeing it elsewhere too, not only as an Ivey student, but as a self-proclaimed activist, as an employee at a major bank, and as a small business owner. Indeed, I had the opportunity to see that the leadership at Ivey are also attracted to business with a purpose when I trained Ivey Publishing in the tagging process I’ve developed over the summer. People want to learn how to make the world a better place, and if Ivey continues on this upwards trajectory, they will be offering staff, students and faculty a unique opportunity to do so.

It’s exciting to see change cascade through the system, especially in today’s climate. It’s crucial that Ivey continues to grow its collection of cases, while also maintaining its position as a leader in this not-quite-novel concept of purpose-driven business in order to stay on par with what the business world both wants and needs.

This isn’t to say that Ivey’s case collection is perfect. Plenty of cases only have one tag out of six possible, but the most recent cases offer higher numbers. There’s room for improvement in the frequency of environmentally focused cases, and a lull in cases about a few of the sustainable development goals. But, Ivey Publishing and the Centre for Building Sustainable Value are doing important work together to bridge those gaps. In doing so, every student will be afforded the opportunity to learn about how to make positive change in not only the business world, but the world at large, rather than just the small cohort enrolled in the sustainability certificate.

As we’ve learned from the 2017 Carbon Majors Report, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of emissions. With this Ivey-led initiative, the future leaders of those 100 companies are beginning to recognize the importance of business with a purpose, and will employ best practices as a result.  Due to Ivey’s groundbreaking commitment to this endeavour, perhaps the next IPCC report will offer a different, more optimistic, story about our planet’s future.


Exhibit 3: Tagged v. Untagged Over Tagging Period

Exhibit 3: Tagged v. Untagged Over Tagging Period

Exhibit 4: Tagged v. Untagged 2020

Exhibit 4: Tagged v. Untagged 2020

Exhibit 5: Tagged v. Untagged 2021

Exhibit 5: Tagged v. Untagged 2021