ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015
fédérale de Lausanne
Workforce and Skills Assessment
2ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Introduction
The ISCN workgroup on corporate dialogues is working on a better understanding of the
sustainability-related skills required for leaders to ensure that their decisions are based
on integrated and holistic thinking, and support the sustainable development of their
It is our hypothesis that the sustainability skills needed by sustainability professionals
and technical experts are rather well supported by higher education offerings.
But there seem to be less resources available to develop sustainability skills
necessary for a broader group of future leaders.
Given that all management decisions will have an impact on the sustainable
development of any organization and our society, assessing and closing this gap is a
priority to ensure that employees that will be well equipped to develop into effective
leaders of tomorrow.
3ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Two Questions
Two questions to answer
• What skill set do managers/leaders need to have to make sustainable and hence
• Where are there gaps and how can we support this skill set and fill the gaps in the
context of our universities’ education programs?
This is not about a new education program but how to develop these skills in the
context of existing programs and hence from the start deliver contextualized
knowledge and skills.
4ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Sustainability
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within
it two key concepts:
• the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which
overriding priority should be given; and
• the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on
the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
From World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our common future, 1987 (Brundtland Report)
Example: The tradeoffs and synergies mentioned above are highly relevant in today’s
corporate environment. Companies are constantly needing to evaluate decisions
against sometimes competing interests. For example, the potential conflict of the
interest of the corporation and its immediate success as compared to the interests of the
society as a whole and its long‐term evolution.
What is Sustainability ?
5ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Next Steps
• Defining the necessary skill set for sustainable decision‐making:
• We believe that these skills will be articulated around the following four
1. What is sustainability? What is systemic thinking?
2. Some sustainability literacy
3. Main issues and trends that show that we are not developing in a
4. Personal engagement in sustainability
• This will be developed and validated with businesses. Currently we are starting
this with Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, and possibly with SGS.
• We have also started collaborating with the WBCSD and one first result was
the introduction to the ISCN report “Developing Skills for Future Leaders. 2015
Sustainable Campus Best Practices from ISCN and GULF Schools” by Peter
Bakker, the president of WBCSD.
6ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Next Steps
• Gap analysis and developing a list of action to facilitate the development of the skill
set for sustainable decision‐making:
• How these skill sets can taught and transferred, using teaching
elements/sequences for existing classes, templates for Massively Open Online
Courses (“MOOCs”), or, templates for interdisciplinary projects.
7ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015First Feedback
First feedback from business
We have made a first inquiry in our business networks and have received the following
encouraging feedback: our corporate dialogue partners overwhelmingly agree that
1. University graduates should have more comprehensive knowledge about
2. Universities should develop a minimum set of sustainability skills to integrate
across their university curricula
3. Universities should assess sustainability skills of their students and adapt their
classes to achieve a certain level of sustainability skills ?