Large corporations and organizations around the world have the unique opportunity to be the largest driving forces in sustainability on the planet. Some might think that a degree like the online sustainability MBA centers on making sure that businesses designate “green” policies within their infrastructures. MBA graduates who take on roles of executive leadership and management can certainly promote changes and improvements in environmentally friendly policies, but the realm of sustainability in business management goes much further than ensuring there are recycle bins in the break room.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability in business concerns itself with the three areas of corporate social sustainability, environmental sustainability, and economic sustainability.
Often referred to as social license (SLO), social sustainability deals with the acceptance granted to an organization by its community. Besides the regulatory and legal licenses that a company must adhere to, the social license needed to operate and sustain is based on three factors: legitimacy, credibility, and trust. To retain social sustainability, an organization must make calculated decisions that keep morale up and trust at a high level. Good communication and transparency are at the heart of social sustainability.
This pillar of sustainability gets the most attention as it has the most carry-over into all areas of life. Today there are watchdog groups created to monitor an organization’s environmental practices and procedures. As some of the world’s largest manufacturers transform raw materials into products of all kinds, there are countless ways they need to be careful to leave a smaller carbon footprint, create less waste, and use less water. In recent years, companies have found innovative ways to reduce their impact on the environment and become more environmentally aware.
Economic sustainability is often the comfort zone for many for-profit organizations, as it looks at the bottom line to keep an organization profitable. Economics does not operate in a vacuum, however, and must keep attention to the other two areas of sustainability if the corporation or business is to survive. Risk management, compliance, and governance are all factors which affect economic sustainability. Economic sustainability will often act as a counterbalance if there is a pull to go to the extreme in the other pillars of sustainability.
Sustainability is an excellent choice for the professional interested in looking at the totality of what business leadership means and how decisions in one area affect the whole. Since sustainability has such a long reach in business, an employee who holds a degree like an online sustainability MBA can work in many types of organizations, from for-profit companies to nonprofit or governmental organizations.
Are There Online Sustainability MBA Programs?
Profitable organizations cannot afford to ignore the effects of sustainability in our world or business. Sustainability continues to increase as a priority for organizations. High-profile companies like Apple, Walmart, and Nike have gone to great lengths in recent years to advertise the priority they have set on environmental sustainability. The practices of proper waste elimination, energy-use reduction, transportation efficiency, recycling, and conservation have become serious commitments for some of the world’s most popular companies.
Since these brands can no longer deny the power of sustainability, they continue to need properly trained professionals in sustainability management to initiate and maintain programs necessary for organizational health. Today, there are entire departments in large corporations committed to sustainability. Executives and managers at many levels need to be educated and equipped to lead teams in sustainability efforts.
The online sustainability MBA has been designed to give graduate students the training they need to lead in business and spearhead sustainability efforts. The online MBA is often delivered fully online or with minor campus visits used for networking or short assignment endeavors. While the cost of a master’s degree can be intimidating, business schools feature many attractive opportunities for online students, some of which include in-state pricing for distance learners.
Online MBA students can expect to complete all requirements for a degree within one to three years and often set their own schedules based on professional and personal demands. Some students take courses one at a time while others with more margin of time can double up on classes and graduate sooner. The courses offered within an online MBA focused on sustainability will include core courses dealing with the areas of data analytics, accounting, strategic thinking, marketing, management, and leadership.
Sometimes up to 25% of an online MBA’s curriculum will be focused on the concentration of a student’s choice. Common themes covered within an online MBA in sustainability are risk management, climate change law and policy, sustainable investing, and managing sustainable organizations.
The online sustainability MBA can be a challenging endeavor, yet it also yields high rewards for the distance learner. Most business schools require that incoming students have several years of professional experience, and most students enrolled in this degree are currently holding positions in the job market. One of the benefits of a degree like the online MBA is that the concepts delivered in the classroom are highly applicable to the workplace and can be applied in real-time.
What Kind of Jobs Can I Get With an Online Sustainability MBA?
Professionals with an MBA are highly attractive as potential hires, and they can be found in most levels of leadership throughout corporations. As many degrees, even at the master’s level, offer specialized training, the MBA can be applied to a wide spectrum of job opportunities. And while a graduate who specialized in sustainability while pursuing an MBA has more practical knowledge about the emphasis, he is also highly qualified for positions outside of sustainability.
That being said, graduates in this specialization focused on economic, social, and environmental sustainability can look for some exciting and specific careers within field. Some of the most sought-after roles in sustainability within organizations include titles like sustainability manager, director of compliance, human resource director, and director of sustainability. Each of these roles carries with it different responsibilities and leanings toward a priority of economic or environmental sustainability. However, each can be pursued after completing an excellent graduate business degree like an online sustainability MBA.