Marcella de la Torre headshot.

Outside Consultant: Why Should a Business Have Societal Impact as Part of Its Strategy?

This “Outside Consultant” column by Marcella de la Torre, who teaches courses at Opus College of Business, ran in the Star Tribune on May 10, 2021.

High-quality business schools are working together toward achieving a positive societal impact. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) fosters positive societal impact by partnering with the communities they serve. Both internal and external stakeholders work together to create strategic plans, delineate bold visions, and continuously improve to ensure alignment with their schools’ values and mission statements. This includes remaining abreast of innovative trends and technology for addressing the unique issues facing the workforce today, research, collaboration, and co-creation. New graduates and alumni are facing challenging and critical times in our societies, from racism, diversity, equity, inclusion to issues related to a pandemic that has not yet ended. Learners are craving for meaning in their lives and feeling they move from dialogue to taking action.

Global companies are using their influence to drive change and propel social responsibility and engagement. Moreover, these unprecedented times are creating a force for change in performance metrics and frameworks to include a form of societal impact. For example, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) are including their impact on society as an indicator of quality. ICSB (International Council for Small Business) added sustainable development goals. In 2020, the United Nations stated that, in order for an organization to be recognized, they had to prioritize the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for global peace and prosperity.

While business schools play their part in creating a more just, equitable and purpose-driven society, it is never too late for other companies to start.

How can one contribute with one’s own business, whether large, medium or small? Empower talent with learning that is inclusive, lifelong and relevant. Build organizational performance on purpose-driven leaders, capable teams and business insights. Focus on well-being from economic, environmental and social perspectives.

Businesses also can learn from the five actions for societal impact AACSB-accredited business schools are working toward. These include: (1) connecting business, community and government to deliver results; (2) solving problems based on knowledge sharing and research developed by the best minds across universities and their business, government and community partners; (3) developing purpose-driven leaders with the vision to tackle the toughest challenges; (4) creating hubs for lifelong learning to promote prosperity and elevate economies; and (5) inspiring innovations with the power to change the world.

Marcella de la Torre, EdD, teaches courses at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.