review: sustainability business management course

This blog post is about my experience and key learnings of the Sustainability Management Course at the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Corona had many down-sides, but for me it was also a blessing, giving me enough time to extend my horizon on how businesses can become more sustainable.

The course enabled me to guide businesses of all kinds towards (more) sustainable business practices, which will equip them for the future and lead to success in the long run.

I won’t introduce all topics covered in the couse, as this would be far too much, but the upcoming blog posts will of cause contain a lot of content from the course.

Here are my top three takeaways from the Sustainability Business Management Course at CISL

  1. It makes commercial sense for businesses to embrace sustainability. Alleged challenges coming with the transformation towards a sustainable business model can be real opportunities and might be the only way to secure the existence of the company in the long term. E.g. the company culture is a very common challenge in the change process, but if an enterprise manages to align its corporate culture according to sustainability practices, it might be even stronger than ever before and attract qualified personnel [1].

  2. There is a huge need of sustainable leadership and sustainable leaders, meaning influential individuals “(…) who inspire and support action towards a better world.” [2] This starts with education because science has already shown what needs to be done but hardly anyone really understands it in every dimension and neither the urgency of actions that have to be taken [3]. So, any company aiming for transformation towards sustainability should start with educating the ones who make decisions in favour of the company on a daily basis – its employees.

  3. Implications of decisions during the design phase are enormous. Did you know, that more than 80% of the environmental impact of a product is determined at the design stage? [4] The choice of materials, functionality etc. has a huge impact of the length of the product life cycle and whether or not the item is recyclable, reusable or reparable [5].

With regards to the content of the course, these are some of the topics that stuck with me. But besides the content and the knowledge, there is a new, much more holistic way of thinking about sustainability. I am now able to link different challenges and issues that might not corollate on the first sight but are highly interconnected. I am convinced, that change towards sustainability needs a system thinking approach to be successful.

If you are interested in enrolling in this course – which I highly recommend you to do in case you have some spare time and are interested in sustainability for businesses – check out Tuuli-Anna’s blog post in addition on her experience.

I’d also love to advise you personally, as talking to other people who’ve already done this course, before registering was very helpful for me. Feel free to get in touch!

Sources:

1. P. Ferrero, S.-A. Behravesh, D. Imbeault, & C. Labrecque, How Workplace Culture Can Support Sustainable Business. Brink, (2020). https://www.brinknews.com/how-workplace-culture-can-support-sustainable-business/ (accessed July 5, 2020).

2. W. Visser, Sustainability Leadership: Linking Theory and Practice. (2020).

3. O. Saito, S. Managi, N. Kanie, J. Kauffman, & K. Takeuchi, Sustainability science and implementing the sustainable development goals. Sustainability Science, 12 (2017) 907–910. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-017-0486-5.

4. M. Querol, Sustainable Product Policy. EU Science Hub – European Commission, (2013). https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/research-topic/sustainable-product-policy (accessed July 6, 2020).

5. R. Setchi, R. J. Howlett, Y. Liu, P. Theobald, & Y. Liu, eds., Sustainable design and manufacturing 2016 (Cham: Springer, 2016).

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