MBAs Expect Businesses to Contribute to Society
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MBAs Expect Businesses to Contribute to Society

The overwhelming majority of today’s MBA students believe that businesses should work toward the betterment of society, that managers should take into account social and environmental impacts when making business decisions.

Paul Holmes

The overwhelming majority of today’s MBA students believe that businesses should work toward the betterment of society, that managers should take into account social and environmental impacts when making business decisions, and that corporate social responsibility should be integrated into core curricula in MBA programs, according to a survey of more than 2,000 MBA students conducted by Net Impact, an international network of MBAs, graduate students and professionals committed to using the power of business to improve the world.

Initial results of the survey were reported on Tuesday, October 24, by Liz Maw, executive director of Net Impact, at the Business as an Agent of World Benefit Global Forum in Cleveland. 

“While we don’t have earlier results for comparison, it may be that these responses reflect, at least in part, the extensive coverage of the corporate scandals of the recent past and the trials of the top executives implicated in them,” says Maw. “It would hardly be surprising for such ethical disasters to enhance students’ appreciation of corporate social responsibility.”

Among the findings:
• Eighty-one percent agreed that businesses should work toward the betterment of society, although only 18 percent believed most corporations are currently working toward that goal.
• Seventy-eight percent agreed that the subject of corporate social responsibility should be integrated into the MBA core curriculum, and 60 percent said they believed CSR makes good business sense and leads to profits.
• Seventy-nine percent indicated they would seek employment that is socially responsible in the course of their careers, and 59 percent said they would do so immediately following business school.
• Eighty-nine percent said business professionals should take social and environmental impacts into account when making business decisions.

While the 37 percent of the respondents who were Net Impact members were the most likely to be partial to social responsibility, social commitment proved strong even among the 63 percent who were nonmembers. Thus, even among respondents who said they were not interested in becoming Net Impact members, 81 percent believed business professionals should take into account social and environmental impacts when making decisions; 64 percent said the subject of corporate social responsibility should be integrated into core MBA classes; 66 percent said business should work toward the betterment of society; and 60 percent said they would seek socially responsible employment.

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