Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) is the First French 'Grande Ecole' Business School to make a statutory commitment to become a benefit corporation (b-corp) in February 2021. GEM's Board of Directors unanimously voted in favor of this major change, confirming GEM's long-term societal engagement. A benefit corporation requires GEM to have a larger purpose. Its purpose is: "To provide responses, through training and research, to the major challenges of the ecological, societal and economic transition and to contribute to a more resilient, fairer, more peaceful and more responsible world."
This purpose has been defined as part of its new 2020-2025 strategic plan and the GEM Manifesto for a Sustainable Future with five strategic objectives, which are directly related to the UN SDGs. GEM is in the process of defining key performance indicators and operations to achieve these objectives. Their achievement will be evaluated by an impact committee and audited by an independent third-party body every two years.
GEM's sustainability initiatives and projects are growing and maturing from Zero Waste Ambition to the Student Sustainability Pathway to the development of research chairs that all have a "social" mission. The biggest and most important challenge is getting sustainability integrated transversally across all topics, courses, and programs. This is GEM's most important objective as an institution of higher education. The school has created a roadmap for accompanying and training faculty to transform their existing courses while building new specializations and programs and innovative pedagogical models and initiatives to complement this transformation.
GEM is a "Business Lab for Society", and engagement with society is its purpose since becoming a benefit corporation. It is at the heart of its strategy and governance. The lab for society is a space to encourage experimentations and creativity to find co-constructed solutions to complex issues. This is shared by developing partnerships locally, nationally, and internationally to impact collective actions and identify best practices.
GEM has a long history of engaging students in sustainability strategy. Student empowerment and engagement in the co-construction and deployment of GEM's sustainability strategy and governance is key to transforming organizational culture and curriculum to respond, contribute and innovate for a sustainable future. To allow for effective student engagement GEM has developed a student engagement model and tools based on four pillars: Listening, Co-construction, Responsibility, Initiative.
The PIR "gives us feedback and shows us how we are progressing on a continuum for greater social impact. We also like that it is not a ranking system, sustainability is not a competition. It makes no sense to be the best or get there first. The planet and humanity all lose if we don't reach our goals collectively.