When Ray C. Anderson first laid out his vision for “doing well by doing good” in the mid-1990s, sustainability was still a relatively nascent topic for many businesses. We wish Ray could be with us to see how significantly sustainability has taken hold across industry sectors and among businesses of all sizes, and how much focus there is on climate action today. While there are plenty of areas for improvement in the execution of sustainable business practices, progress is always a process. As a Center, we are thrilled to help accelerate this progress through our relationships and programming with industry partners, faculty, and students.
Just as sustainability is a work in progress, so is our own Center. We recently published our Strategic Plan: 2022-2026 to guide us over the next several years in coordination with Sustainability Next, the Georgia Tech Strategic Plan 2020-2030 initiative on sustainability (co-led by Beril). We remain as committed as ever to pursuing our vision of empowering the leaders of tomorrow to create sustainable businesses and communities. Our overarching goals are to engage faculty and industry, prepare leaders, educate students, and grow our reputation. Some objectives and initiatives in service of these goals are expanding our curriculum, aiding sustainability career exploration, supporting research that advances sustainable business practices, and facilitating the Drawdown Georgia Business Compact. There is space for involvement from everyone — students, faculty, industry, and community — in our plan.
A project that is especially close to our hearts is the Business Compact, which launched in October 2021. Companies joining the Compact commit to taking individual and collective actions that support the statewide achievement of net zero emissions by 2050 through a just, competitive, and sustainable transition. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Compact’s launch, we are thrilled at the speed at which our Compact has been moving towards a critical mass of industry members (as we go to print, 42!). Members represent diverse business types ranging from large corporations to small businesses across multiple sectors. We are also pleased to see spinoffs supporting our Center’s other priorities. For instance, Compact members looking for advice from our students have become project sponsors for our Sustainable Business Consulting Practicum, and our Center’s curriculum for the Executive MBA Program now includes projects related to the Compact. In addition to advancing its specific objectives, the Compact is creating an ecosystem that includes non-profit partners and others. We can’t wait to see how this initiative grows to include more and more organizations united in collective action for a better future for all!
Running as a thread throughout all our work is an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our Center leadership, faculty, staff, and students are highly engaged in related activities. Michael, for instance, continues in his role as co-chair of Scheller’s DE&I Council. Arianna Robinson, our Center’s assistant director of business operations, founded and has been running an active book discussion group for members of the Scheller College community. Through the Center’s work with RCE Greater Atlanta, we co-led (with Serve-Learn-Sustain) the Drawdown Georgia Equity Opportunities Project. The purpose of this project was to focus on equity opportunities, barriers, and concerns related to climate solutions for Georgia. Like corporations, the Center, Drawdown Georgia, and the Business Compact are increasingly putting more emphasis on the “S” in “ESG.”
We are filled with optimism for the days ahead and eager to collaborate with friends old and new. We thank our students for their passion, our faculty for their cutting-edge research, and our industry partners for putting the wheels in motion to make great ideas come to life. Moving forward, we choose to keep an image in mind that symbolizes how we feel about our work. Many of you may have seen photos of President Ángel Cabrera helping students move into campus housing in August. Move-in day and sustainability have lots in common: Everyone must lend a hand to make real progress a reality. Thank you, President Cabrera, for setting just the right tone for us all as we head into an academic year full of new possibilities.