Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014
By MJ Slaby 812-331-4371 | firstname.lastname@example.org
What do H&M and Ikea have in common?
Both are companies based in Scandinavian countries and well-regarded for corporate social responsibility and sustainability. They were also two of the more well-known stops during a two-week Professional Development in International Business program in Denmark and Sweden.
Jim Heinzen, dean of the School of Business and a professor of business administration at Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, was one of two community college representatives to attend the program from the University of Minnesota. He attended as part of a relationship between Ivy Tech and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
“This is an area that I have interest in, but didn’t know a whole lot about,” he said.
Now, he said, there is room to apply what he learned in the classroom and in campus sustainability at Ivy Tech.
“I’d like to see more emphasis in our classes,” he said.
Heinzen said he hopes to teach what he learned in business administration and technology classes by giving students examples from his trip. He said Ivy Tech can also apply some of the tips to limit its own campus energy consumption.
Companies like H&M and Ikea are very aware of sustainability and human rights, and that shows corporations can be about more than profit, Heinzen said.
He said he was impressed to learn about the Better Cotton Initiative that H&M is involved in. The initiative promotes more sustainable farm practices, and H&M has moved to organic cotton which, is produced using fewer pesticides, less water and fewer chemicals, Heinzen said.
At Ikea, Heinzen said he learned about the company’s work with nongovernment organizations to improve working conditions for companies that are their suppliers.
He said many of the issues in corporate social responsibility and sustainability remain in countries like India and China. But Heinzen didn’t think the U.S. was far behind the leaders he visited.
“There’s this perception that Scandinavian companies are the gold standard,” Heinzen said. “I was happy to see that many of the green initiatives and sustainability practices in the United States, and especially here in Bloomington, were just as strong as those overseas.”