Orient Magazine Issue 79 - October 2020 | Page 56


The Future is Here: Business Education for Tomorrow

The World is throwing a seemingly endless list of challenges at everybody involved in management. With the immediate issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations have been in permanent crisis mode since early 2020, and there seems to be little respite to take a breath and think about strategy, or indeed, anything else. Covid has certainly highlighted how interconnected our supply chains are, and how we need to adapt our business practices and strategies to survive. Organisations large and small, public and private sector are focussing on resilience as never before. Businesses and their customers are taking stock and considering what really matters.

Climate change, the environment, clean water, good health and wellbeing are just four of the areas highlighted in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Whilst these Goals are a useful framework for our trajectory as a society, we cannot afford to ignore them in a business or a management context either. Consumer demand and behaviour is evolving rapidly, and organisations are facing greater scrutiny of their products and services, and sustainability is often high on the list. Indeed, the role of business in society is itself being questioned, with the large global tech companies in particular being in the spotlight in recent months.

Is it enough then, for the business of the future to ‘just’ have a carbon-neutral strategy? Google, for example, has been carbon-neutral since 2007, and says that it has now eliminated its entire carbon footprint since its founding. Apple on the other hand, has committed to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030. But how about a company like Danone? A global food company present in more than 130 markets, Danone has fully committed to combine economic success and social progress, having achieved ‘B Corp’ Certification for 17 of their entities to date. B Corporations aim to use business as a force for good, balancing profit and growth to generate positive impact for employees, communities and the environment. Pursuing a certified B Corp strategy is clearly not for everyone, but there is a growing movement behind a more general ‘B Economy’, with a focus on the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ approach.

The Triple Bottom Line judges social and environmental achievements with equal weight alongside financial performance. This might be an uncomfortable thought for many Finance Directors and Chief Executives, but there is no avoiding the fact that it is starting to matter to both consumers and regulators. Designing out waste and pollution, keeping materials in use, and regenerating natural systems; the three principles of the Circular Economy, are also becoming increasingly relevant in this time of disruption and uncertainty.

... widespread

adoption of circular economy principles would result in a CNY70 Trillion saving for households and businesses in China by 2040; and in Europe, a EU3,00 increase in annual household disposable income.