Annual Report 2021

Special Features


Leading sustainable organizations is fast becoming a business necessity, but it is also a strategic opportunity. Organizations and executives can do well by doing good.

While some companies and executives have yet to fully appreciate the possibilities, many are eager to fulfil the evolving social, economic and environmental responsibilities of business and to capture competitive advantage.

IMD is committed to showing leadership on this critical theme, both by setting an example - and the agenda - through the focus and content of its programs, interactions and research, but also by striving to meet the distinct and common needs of executives and organizations as they navigate their own complex sustainability challenges.

“Sustainability is embedded in our purpose and throughout the institute’s strategy and activities,” said Natalia Olynec, IMD’s Head of Sustainability. “IMD advocates for sustainability through our teaching, research, and outreach. At the same time, the institute aims to continuously improve in fulfilling its duty to ensure a sustainable, inclusive campus and workplace.”

In 2021, the institute increased its efforts to put sustainability at the center of its programming and activities. From CXO roundtables, new learning journeys and research to adding expert talent and driving improvements in the diversity of its degree program participants, IMD has established itself at the forefront of sustainability in global executive education.

Responsible leadership development

IMD’s approach

Following an extensive materiality consultation process, and as a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education, IMD identified five core sustainability focus areas, from a broader list of 12 priorities, where it can have the greatest impact, internally and externally.

Responsible leadership development
Cutting edge education
Access to executive education
Equity, inclusion and diversity
Mobility and emissions

IMD’s stewardship of these five focus areas is informed by key stakeholder input from the Foundation and Supervisory Board, clients and program participants, alumni, accreditation bodies, employees, suppliers and service providers, and local communities.


IMD added two new sustainability-focused programs to its diverse portfolio in 2021, alongside additional content within existing learning journeys. Leading Sustainable Business Transformation, led by Lundin Chair Professor of Sustainability Knut Haanaes and Professor of Strategic Management James Henderson, is designed to help executives build sustainable business models to future-proof their organizations and benefit society.

Leading Sustainable Business Transformation
Leading Sustainable Business Transformation

Through its innovative E4S alliance with neighbors EPFL and the University of Lausanne, IMD faculty were instrumental in the delivery of the first Master of Science in Sustainable Management and Technology program. This innovative program equips the entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs of the future to contribute to the transition toward a more resilient, environmentally responsible and inclusive economy.

The new E4S Master in Sustainable Management and Technology
The new E4S Master in Sustainable Management and Technology


IMD grew its reputation as a center of excellence for sustainability research, including the publication of three FT50 articles, two best-selling case studies, and by strengthening its academic team with four new appointments.


  • Julia Binder, who initiated and led the sustainability center Tech4Impact at EPFL, joined as Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation.
  • Gail Whiteman, Professor of Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School’s Department of Management, appointed as a visiting professor.
  • Ivan Miroshnychenko and Amanda Williams recruited as research fellows.

2021 highlights

Responsible leadership development

New talent: +1 full faculty / +1 visiting faculty / +2 researchers
New programs: Leading Sustainable Business Transformation & Master of Science in Sustainable Management and Technology (E4S)
New partnerships: World Business Council for Sustainable Development / Business Schools for Climate Leadership

Cutting edge education

2/3 of revenues from technology-mediated programs in 2021 vs 10% pre-pandemic
Virtual reality enhanced programs

Access to executive education

Scholarships for 51% of MBA participants
61 subsidized NGO program participants
35% of MBA female vs 34% in 2020
34% of EMBA female vs 29% in 2020

Equity, inclusion & diversity

Gender equal pay certification

Mobility and emissions

New telework policy
+21% Zoom sessions vs 2020
Travel carbon emissions 0.55 million lbs vs 0.85 million lbs in 2020

Mobility and emissions
Business Schools for Climate Leadership (BS4CL)

Partnerships and outreach

Collaboration is vital to find effective solutions for today’s complex challenges. IMD works in partnership with a broad range of organizations, from policymaking and business to academia, to share expertise and drive progress.

In 2021, IMD and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ambition of developing the most sustainability-focused MBA program in the world.

The institute joined a group of eight leading European business schools to establish Business Schools for Climate Leadership (BS4CL) to help executives combat the climate crisis facing the planet. BS4CL published a digital toolkit for business leaders to coincide with COP26.

The climate crisis, growing global inequality and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have magnified the need for innovation and collaboration to ensure society’s – and our children’s - future welfare. Business leaders clearly have a disproportionate impact and a critical role to play in this race against time.
IMD President Jean-François Manzoni

Looking ahead

As IMD continues to reshape its programs and research through the business critical lens of sustainability, the institute is establishing a Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business to lead its research activities and pedagogical innovation at the intersection of sustainability, strategy and leadership.

To find out more about IMD’s sustainability activities in 2021, please click here