One Year On: The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

HGIBS Advisory Board

Peace and prosperity. Ethics and impact. Diversity and inclusion. Business as a force for good. Throughout INSEAD’s history, teaching, researching and engaging around social responsibility have been an integral part of the school’s vision and mission. 

Meanwhile, with global challenges mounting and the population growing, it has become increasingly urgent to develop action-oriented leaders with a deep knowledge of sustainability issues.

In August 2018, following a foundational gift from André and Rosalie Hoffmann, INSEAD established the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society. The Institute aims to take INSEAD’s positive social impact to the next level by equipping leaders to make decisions that deliver positive outcomes for businesses, communities, people and our planet.


Becoming #SDGSMART

Over the past year, the Hoffmann Institute has gathered perspectives across the INSEAD community and kick-started promising initiatives. A key focus is to align INSEAD more closely with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which offer a cohesive and centralised framework for discussing a new development model. 

As more and more leaders adopt these 17 global goals to account for their contributions to society, the Institute has launched #SDGSMART, which will connect business education at INSEAD with the SDGs. Actions toward achieving alignment will include research and development of new sustainable business models, exploring means of operating sustainably, inspiring a diverse group of future leaders, engaging with the global alumni community to expand the impact and making INSEAD a sustainable school that acts and leads by example.

Katell presenting

“When I speak with students, professors, staff, alumni and other business leaders, I hear repeatedly that sustainable development is the key to a prosperous future where healthy communities thrive on a healthy planet. People want to be part of this global movement, and INSEAD has an important role to play,”

Katell Le Goulven, Executive Director of the Hoffmann Institute.

INSEAD is taking concrete steps to become #SDGMART via efforts that encourage both conversation and action to align with the SDGs. As part of the core MBA curriculum, the Master Strategist Day brings together students with social-impact driven organisations such as the Unjani Clinics in South Africa, which currently provide primary health care to 15 million people. Another example is the SDG Bootcamp, an intensive two-day MBA course exploring the intersection of profit and purpose while seeking entrepreneurial solutions.

On-campus initiatives include a communications campaign to raise awareness via social media, posters and a #SDGSMART resources webpage. An INSEAD Sustainability Report measures economic, environmental, social and governance performance, and is complemented by recent efforts to reduce single-use plastic bottles and student-led efforts to promote active, healthy lifestyles.

During recent months, the Hoffmann Institute has also conducted engaging seminars and conferences. These included a webinar with Pavan Sukhdev (WWF International President and member of the Hoffmann Institute Advisory Board), an interview with David Nabarro (special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), and a lecture with award-winning social intrapreneur, Gib Bulloch – all furthering the message of business as a force for good. 

Looking ahead to 2020 

Building on this momentum, in 2020 INSEAD will host an SDG Week on all three campuses, sponsor again the SDG Tent in Davos, and organise the Business and Society Forum on Health at the ChangeNow Summit. A new endowed Bianca and James Pitt Chair in Environmental Sustainability will help the school address critical environmental issues and support research focused on sustainability and responsibility.

“As the Business School for the World, INSEAD wants to shape global growth by developing leaders who champion business as a force for good and innovate new, sustainable business models,” says Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD and Academic Director of the Hoffmann Institute.

INSEAD’s global alumni community – nearly 60,000 strong – is rising to the challenge. During the recent reporting period, INSEAD Alumni Forums engaged over 2,900 alumni, with sessions on current topics including sustainability. Alumni Clubs working in more than 150 countries encourage leaders to use business as a force for good by considering social impact and environmental concerns. Reunions regularly draw over 50% participation and feature sustainability-related discussions. An exploratory, alumni-led initiative around the elimination of single-use plastics is currently under development.

The results are clear: just one year after its creation, the Hoffmann Institute has made important strides to integrate sustainability across INSEAD activities and mobilise multiple stakeholders for maximum impact. Executive Director Le Goulven, however, prefers to focus on the future potential, rather than on accomplishments to date.

“What if we mobilized the collective brain, experience, and willpower of the global INSEAD community to implement creative solutions to today’s most pressing issues?” she asks. “This is INSEAD’s moment.”


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