Initiatives by our hubs and students discuss and deepen the debate on the ESG agenda, regarding environmental and social responsibility, and governance improvement
On March 21 and 22, we celebrate the International Day of Forests and World Water Day, respectively. Both dates reinforce a central topic that has definitively entered society’s agenda: Sustainability. The Environment, Society, and Governance (ESG) agenda has been gaining increasingly more momentum. It seeks to study and promote sustainable actions in society.
“Estimates by the UN’s Business and Sustainable Development Commission show that the economic potential of opportunities that are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at least US$ 12 trillion a year until 2030. In this vein, having an ESG agenda and promoting the integration of the SDGs into the organizational strategies, aligned with good governance, proves to be essential for a sustainable business growth path,” explain Priscila Borin Claro and Vinícius Picanço, Coordinators of our Sustainability and Business Hub and Insper professors.
Inside Insper, the agenda is conducted on several fronts, within different research hubs and entities. It seeks to fulfill the school’s mission of always being a center for disseminating knowledge and debate that adds value to organizations, governments, and society.
Sustainability and Business
Among Insper’s research hubs is the Sustainability and Business Hub of our Center for Business Studies (CENeg, for its acronym in Portuguese). It aims to produce and disseminate knowledge related to sustainability and business, assisting in preparing, implementing, and controlling organizational strategies. It considers the entire supply chain, integrating stakeholders and good governance practices.
“From research based on qualitative and quantitative analyzes, we hope to contribute to the public debate, the clarification of causes and effects of social, economic, and environmental problems in the business context, and the design of sustainable solutions. The Hub’s activities are in line with the spirit of an integrated school to which Insper advocates. Therefore, they seek to build bridges between the Business Administration and Engineering fields,” professors Priscila Borin Claro and Vinícius Picanço explain.
Among the examples of the Hub’s work is the launch of the “Sustainable Supply Chain for Social Business” course, developed for Insper’s Professional Masters in Public Policy (MPP, for its acronym in Portuguese). In it, Insper students work alongside participants from partner universities to investigate social companies engaged in food production in the Brazilian Amazon. It includes producing a business case at the company and presenting it to entrepreneurs, potential investors, and other guests. Besides, the Hub also contributes to fostering public debate on important topics within the sustainability context in business via the research it produces.
For the coordinators of the hub, organizations play a crucial role in achieving Sustainable Development. “On the one hand, they are responsible for part of the environmental, social, and economic problems generated at all stages of the value chain and in the life cycle of the products and services they develop. On the other hand, many business opportunities can be explored, generating innovation and more value for society”.
There is a great concern that the movement of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, impact investments, and ESG will result in projects that fail to show real impact. In this scenario, the Insper Metricis, a Socio-environmental Impact Measurement Hub, tries to disseminate best practices for monitoring and assessing socio-environmental impact based on rigorous techniques.
“Nowadays, there is even talk of ‘greenwashing.’ That is, projects that only aim to generate a positive reputation for companies or even mitigate other types of deviations without causing substantial changes and improvements to the target populations. Since its creation in 2013, Insper Metricis has sought to move in a different direction,” observes Sérgio Lazzarini, Coordinator of Metricis and Insper professor. Metricis’ methodology is expressed in its Guide to the Assessment of Socio-Environmental Impact, now in its fourth revised edition.
Besides, José Geraldo Setter, Executive Manager of Insper Metricis and Insper professor, points out that the hub has actively participated in the debate on how to measure socio-environmental impact through events and research projects with the public and private organizations, both for-profit and non-profit. “We seek to take academia’s contribution to the broader debate in the so-called socio-environmental impact ecosystem — whether through open events that we promote, such as Socio-Environmental Impact Workshops (whose next edition will be on May 6) and courses like the Socio-Environmental Impact Laboratory. They are both in the scope of Insper’s Executive Education and Undergraduate Programs. Finally, we develop projects with external partners whenever there is a fit with our research interests and that access to databases is provided to develop scientific work and papers.”
The hub also brings together academic research projects conducted by professors and students of our Doctoral, Masters, and Undergraduate Programs. Several of them are presented to the public through the “Impacto Social” (“Social Impact”) blog, published in partnership with Brazilian business magazine Exame (in Portuguese).
Among Insper’s students, there are also important initiatives around the topic of sustainability. Among them is the student organization GreenInsper. It works inside and outside the school through various projects. Among its internal projects’ highlights, there is the installation of new drinking fountains, eliminating the need for plastic cups, encouraging the use of bottles, and ensuring greater accessibility. Besides, there was the construction of the gathering area outside Building 1 and open events in partnership with other Insper’s student entities (such as InFinance, AgroInsper, and the Academic Center) and companies (like Ambev, the petrochemical company Braskem, and Pepsico).
Among the external projects, the members of the organization highlight the structuring of a Sustainable Consultancy for companies, the creation of a group for Stock Evaluation under the ESG perspective (in partnership with some investment funds), and the project for the Sustainable Development of Regions with the Anchieta Grajaú Institute.
The entity sees important advances in discussions on the ESG agenda in society. Also, it believes that considering these aspects in investments is one factor that most contributes to the recent increase in debates on this theme.
“Although there are good examples of movements made by major companies, the mindset of many still relates the search for the sustainability of processes with philanthropy — that is, with the detriment of part of their return, which is a mistaken view. Sustainability is a highly profitable and urgent investment on the part of everyone,” points out Giovanni Meirelles Jeuken Di Domizio, a Business Administration undergraduate student and Director of GreenInsper.
In addition to the environmental aspects, the ESG agenda addresses social responsibility criteria in corporate environments. Within our school, the topic has received more attention increasingly. For instance, it has counted on the creation of a Racial Studies Hub, which aims to promote initiatives and empirical studies to assist in the racial debate in Brazil.
“There are a number of potential benefits for a company that promotes racial equity. The academic literature points out that, if well managed, diversity can improve productivity, performance, and innovation in organizations,” explains Michael França, Coordinator of the Racial Studies Hub and Insper researcher.
For him, it is also important to highlight the possible costs for those who choose not to address racial issues with the care they deserve. “It is evident that we are experiencing a new racial scenario, and this agenda has become very heated. In that context, choices like inaction and denial can have consequences”.