Human rights is serious concerns for many cooperates and organizations around the globe within their operation and supply networks
Human rights is a key topic around the globe like climate change which is currently at the heat of attention for global organizations. With criticisms for ongoing social issues like mistreatment of Uyghur in China and abuse of child labor across indigenous societies, organizations share burden and responsibility to address such matters.
This movement has been transferred into business schools as well. Michael Posner, director of Stern’s Center for Business and Human Rights explains the importance of educating students with integrity. A mindset and appropriate skills to raise a next generation leaders. In order to do so, he argues that human rights are required to be implemented in every part of course taught in business schools.
Nevertheless, he points out that the business schools needs to stand out and act as the vanguard of treating human rights risk as their main agendas.
His organization, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights in New York City, was founded in 2013 and it’s one of the first center to highlight the importance of human rights in business school. It collaborates with the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights and the Global Business School Network, a non-profit dedicated to improving management education in emerging economies, to actively urge other schools to launch human rights programs.
Given his enthusiasm on human rights, Stern’s Center emerges research agendas with human right concerns in many business areas. With the example of Stern Center, MBA Curriculum is given expectancy and more prominent to feature human rights to be included into all aspects of business educations.
Human rights curriculum is becoming more universal for MBA Programs
Series of laws and regulations is a product of growing interest and expectations on human rights across the society. Some of the notable ones include UK Modern Slavery Act, the French Duty of Vigilance law, and the upcoming EU Directive on required due diligence.
With growing interest for human rights, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark has appeared where the society are able to determine human rights ratings and rankings for a cooperation with the growing public attention.
Business Initiative is a cooperative organization between Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center and the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley Hass School of Business in California. It is founded in 2015 and Faris Natour is the current director of this initiative.
Natour emphasizes that corporate duty to protect human rights is an essential pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a worldwide standard adopted by the UN in 2011 and universally supported by business, governments, investors, and human rights organizations.
Hass provides a full length MBA course which is Managing Human Rights in Business. Natour claims that this was never seen in the previous curriculum before. He presents that major companies and organizations seek human rights agenda as an immediate priorities within the higher management. Therefore, MBA students are in higher demands for a course that emerges human rights and business.
Natour added “With higher enrollment numbers for these courses, business schools will present and compose more course with human rights inside their curriculum.” He underlined companies will address their potential human rights impacts into account for their business success and it is important for students to be well equipped.
Importance of highlighting human right issues within companies and business schools
Although the importance of integration of human rights into business school is becoming prevalent, it still faces challenges where business school lacks faculties in regard.
Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, professor at the Institute of Management at Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM) in Switzerland concerns about the limitation of both theory and practical approach when it comes to human rights in business school.
With flooding of courses offered by the schools, it is merely impossible to include human rights into curriculum and require a substantial curriculum reforms. She added “Not taking into account of dominant paradigm of neoliberalism in business schools in its state.
Not just in the education sector but for business sectors, Baumann-Pauly warns about the danger of not appropriately addressing human right issues. It could be a risk of financial loss to getting involved in a legal terms. With its growing awareness around the world, there is a potential risk of losing company reputation as well. Nonetheless, this factors are changing companies to alter their operation practices more meaningfully.
In addition to not appropriately addressing human right issues, she raised a concern about corporate managements are still not appreciating the needing of reforms across their supply chains the operational task of their business. Ceremonial movement of human rights such as modern slavery acknowledgement will simply not cut it.
She explains that graduates are required to go through curriculum with real world challenges and if the business school cannot provide that, it will provide insignificant employees for the potential employers. Her aim is to reinforce and work on business school reforms to fight for the societal challenges.
However, with students beginning to seek courses for future agendas in relations to urgent social concerns such as climate change and global inequalities, Baumann-Pauly is forecasting cautious but optimistic view for the future.
Acknowledging the need for change in business education, GSEM has developed a specialty for students with motives to change and contribute for better sustainable business and human rights. This specialty can only be acquired if the master class on Business and Human Rights are taken as prerequisite.
Implementing human rights into an existing business school curriculum is not an easy task. Therefore, Global Business School Network took a note of this as published a toolkit to assist and provide guidelines that explains how to create the case for human rights in business school education and adapt human rights appropriately into the curriculum.
Furthermore, research that provides good societal changes are taken into more considerations by the organizations like business school accreditation bodies and foundations with research grants.
Read More: US Business Schools Combat Anti-Asian Racism