Sustainability Report 2021


"A critical role to play"

Jean François Manzoni,
President, IMD

The climate crisis, growing global inequality and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have magnified the need for innovation and collaboration to ensure society’s – and our children’s - future welfare. At the 2021 COP26 climate conference, business and government leaders agreed on the urgency to reinvent business models and enact system change to accelerate sustainable transformation.

While we all have some impact as individual consumers, of course, business leaders clearly have a disproportionate impact and hence a critical role to play in this race against time. On the positive side, we are observing many business leaders working hard at creating responsible products and services and improving their supply chains to ensure a prosperous, but also more sustainable and inclusive, future. Still, too many businesses have not yet fully embedded sustainability challenges and opportunities into their core strategies. In some cases, they still see sustainability as a compliance burden rather than a strategic opportunity.

I am very fortunate to lead a group of IMD faculty and staff whose purpose is to develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society. In 2022, we will keep challenging what is and inspiring what could be for one MBA class, three Executive MBA classes and thousands of leaders attending our programs.

The journey towards sustainability begins with each of us as leaders.
Jean François Manzoni

In 2021, we set a strong foundation for this mission. We introduced new sustainability programs, including the open enrolment Leading Sustainable Business Transformation program and a range of custom-designed programs for corporate clients. With our new partner, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), we are redesigning our MBA program to deeply integrate social and environmental concerns into the curriculum. IMD also collaborated with leading Swiss universities UNIL and EPFL through the Enterprise for Society Center to drive new research and launch a new joint Masters in Sustainable Business & Technology.

We deepened our research through the elea Center for Social Innovation and the Global Family Business Center and by welcoming new faculty and researchers specializing in sustainability-related research. Together with seven other leading European business schools, we established the Business Schools for Climate Leadership partnership which launched a number of activities ahead of and during COP26, including the creation of a business toolkit for climate leadership.

In addition to a strong focus on environmental threats and opportunities, we also increased IMD’s research, teaching and outreach activities in relation to equity, inclusion and diversity (EI&D). In particular, we initiated a research initiative on inclusion, increased gender diversity and EI&D topics in our degree programs, and initiated on-campus initiatives to raise awareness of unconscious biases and build an inclusive culture. IMD is increasingly working on co-creating custom programs for corporations to embed EI&D in strategy and implementation.

We enhanced access to executive education in spite of COVID-related travel restrictions by continuing to invest in technology. We delivered our award-winning programs regardless of ability to travel, while also reducing the related carbon footprint.

We also further strengthened our strict health and safety measures on campus to ensure a COVID-secure environment as we welcomed participants back to campus for face-to-face programs.

A key element of our Sustainability Policy, developed in 2019, is our commitment to the six UN Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME). This report shares our progress in meeting our sustainability goals and commitment to these principles.

The journey towards sustainability begins with each of us as leaders. We are committed to supporting you and your organizations in leading sustainable business transformation. I hope you will join us in making a bigger difference in 2022.