The new report - Leading for the Future of Our Planet - is based on the findings of a CEMS survey of 4,206 professionals from 75 countries and reveals that, for the first time, technological advancement is no longer the primary concern of modern business leaders.
The study points out that 43% of respondents believe the environment is among their biggest challenges, with technology taking a distant second place (26%), after being identified in 2018 as the biggest challenge. Both issues were considered more pressing for global companies than changes in the world's economic and political power centers (14%), political instability (6%) and global pandemics (3%).
With regard to the environment, the most detailed information and recommendations from the experts of the CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education (a consortium of leading students, business schools, alumni and non-profit companies from around the world) in this report include the following:
- Avoiding environmental catastrophe will require a completely new set of business beliefs and behaviors, which include clearly and objectively defined models that assign values to sustainability and costs to inaction.
- Leaders must transform finite, short-term thinking focused only on profit into balanced, long-term thinking that is more aware of the results for future generations.
- This transformation requires leaders who can communicate, explore the unknown, challenge the status quo, and fearlessly take risks.
- Business leaders will need to engage their external stakeholders to drive transformation: they need to understand their organization's place in the societies in which they operate and build alliances between governments, business, and civil society for lasting change.
- A thorough understanding of ESG issues should be introduced into business education across the board, not just in specialized modules, by partnering with market professionals to create platforms for students to practice the theory.
- Early career professionals must reveal a deep understanding of the subject and gather sustainability skills in their resume, so that they can make a difference and be agents of change. Young professionals must also challenge the status quo.
"We hope that this report will add rich and valuable information from our entire CEMS community on how business leaders, educators and professionals can really make a difference when it comes to combating the environmental emergency," says Nicole de Fontaines, CEMS Executive Director, adding that "for a long time, we treated planet Earth as an infinite resource that we could exploit indefinitely. In recent years, however, humanity finally seems to understand that we are heading for an environmental catastrophe if urgent action is not taken. The business world has to play a key and leading role because it has the capabilities and resources to drive positive change. The challenge is how to develop - at all levels - bold and exceptional leaders with the awareness and skills to implement solutions that save the world."