Charles, Prince of Wales, challenged business schools today to do more to prepare MBA students to be effective business leaders in a world facing significant environmental challenges. The Prince made his remarks in a speech delivered to an audience of Deans and leading academics from business schools around the world.

At the event convened by The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) and The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and hosted by London Business School, The Prince of Wales also challenged business students themselves:

"To all those current business school students – and to those who are deciding where to study – ask yourself, is your chosen business school really going to equip you to be the kind of leader that is so badly needed for the next 50 years?  Nothing less will do."

The event was held by A4S and CISL to encourage business schools to incorporate accounting for sustainability in their MBA and research programs. The audience, which also included leading business school ranking organizations, discussed the barriers to making changes, and what tools and methodologies would be needed to embed sustainability into mainstream accounting and finance research and teaching within business schools.

"Our work with the finance and accounting community highlights how important it is for business leaders to understand the relevance of significant environmental and social trends to the bottom line – and how far there is still to go to equip them with this knowledge and the techniques to respond," said Jessica Fries, A4S executive chairman in a statement.

The Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established in 2004 to "help ensure that we are not battling to meet 21st century challenges with, at best, 20th century decision-making and reporting systems." A4S works with the accounting and finance community to:

  • Demonstrate the business case, increase engagement and build capacity to drive behavior change that results in sustainable business practices.
  • Develop practical tools, guidance and approaches that enable environmental, social and economic risks and opportunities to be reflected in decision-making.
  • Facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for change through a shift to sustainable capital markets, and supportive regulatory and reporting regimes.  

"If we are to tackle the social and economic challenges ahead posed by issues such as climate change, growing inequality and resource constraints, action must be scaled up," Fries continued. "Business schools have a vital role to play, teaching the next generation of business and finance leaders.  Furthermore, by tapping into the brightest talent available, they can help businesses develop new approaches that will enable them to take action with confidence."
“Over the past 25 years we have seen at first hand just how challenging it is for business leaders to grapple with complex global challenges and to respond in ways which align profitability and sustainability," stated Polly Courtice, director of CISL. “Companies need a steady stream of business school graduates who are literate in these issues and who know how to build resilient strategies for the future.  Business schools have a critical role to play in developing the far-sighted leaders that companies need. Optional Friday afternoon modules on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ will not cut it.”

For more information on the A4S and CISL, head to their sites here and here.