Sustainability Report 2014-2015

“Business for a Better World”

Sustainability Report



“Business for a Better World”

Photoshoot for all the Degree Programmes with a focus on cover photos.INSEAD is pleased to officially launch its first public Sustainability Report. The report analyses key sustainability indicators for the 2014–2015 Academic Year and covers INSEAD’s core activities in research, education, and outreach, key stakeholders like students, faculty and staff, as well as operations (including facilities on its three campuses worldwide), financial management and governance.

The INSEAD Sustainability Report 2014–2015 is compliant with the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and based on the comprehensive GRI framework G4. Each chapter includes “smart” goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound), which were proposed by the different departments within the school and vetted by a steering committee consisting of the school’s senior leadership team, including deans and department heads. The reporting cycle is intended to become biennial and we would welcome your feedback in order to improve future editions.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organisation that has pioneered sustainability reporting for businesses, governments, educational institutions and others. It takes a broad approach to defining sustainability, including environmental, social and economic factors. The INSEAD Sustainability Report 2014–2015 analyses these key sustainability indicators in the context of an institution that is one of the world’s leading international business schools and, as far as we know, the first to adopt the GRI standards.


Research quality is a key differentiator in the highly competitive landscape of international management education. During the reporting period of 2014–15 the school was placed #7 in the world (and #1 outside the US) in the influential University of Texas, Dallas (UTD) Business School Research Rankings, and ranked #9 globally by the Financial Times.

In particular, research into sustainability is not only thriving but also growing at INSEAD, with the cross-disciplinary INSEAD Social Innovation Centre as one of the drivers. In 2014–2015 sustainability accounted for around one-fifth of both the school’s total research output and its external research funding, as well as 11 research seminars. These outputs were generated at all levels of INSEAD’s research community from PhD students to the newly appointed holder of the Paul Dubrule Chair in Sustainable Development, Professor Karan Girotra.

INSEAD’s research goals for the next two years include appointing a faculty leader in sustainability and producing new teaching case studies on sustainability topics, suitable for use in the school’s six degree programmes.


Like INSEAD’s research, the business education it provides is highly ranked in an intensely competitive international marketplace. The full-time, ten-month MBA programme (with over 1,000 graduates every year) and two part-time Executive MBA programmes (with around 200 graduates a year) are particularly large and well respected. For example, the MBA programme was ranked in the global top four by three of the major rankings in 2014–2015.

Compulsory MBA courses now include Introduction to Business Ethics and Practical Wisdom in Business, both mainly devoted to sustainability issues, and four others with some sustainability content. Students also choose 15 “elective courses” from a selection of around 90, at least 11 of which had a principal or partial focus on sustainability in 2014–2015. Similarly the Global Executive MBA curriculum has a compulsory ethics course, tailored to the needs of a more senior audience.

INSEAD is also a major provider of Executive Education to corporate clients. The portfolio includes a dedicated Social Entrepreneurship Programme about growing business or other kinds of ventures to solve social problems and effect societal change. Another highly specialist programme for healthcare executives addresses issues of ethics and compliance, while the Advanced Management Programme for very senior business leaders offers an elective on business sustainability.

Among the school’s goals for education in 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 are: increasing both demand and supply with respect to sustainability content in degree programmes; and completing a project to analyse best practice in sustainability teaching.

Society and Outreach

As well as the mission-critical activities of teaching and research, INSEAD is dedicated to engaging with business and society as a whole. As usual, among the highlights of the school’s outreach calendar were the year’s two Sustainability Executive Roundtables. Launched in 2003, these bring senior alumni, industry experts and faculty together to discuss burning issues. The topics for 2014–2015 were Sustainability as a Driver of Operational Excellence (September) and Challenges and Opportunities for Individuals and Organisations (June). In addition to the roundtables, in 2014–2015 the school’s Social Innovation Centre organised and hosted one “great debate”, two masterclasses, one webinar and three workshops on social innovation for MBA participants. It also supported the three student societies concerned with sustainability: INDEVOR (Social Impact); the Environment and Business Club; and the Energy Club.


INSEAD is known as one of  the most culturally diverse educational institutions in the entire world. In 2014–2015, a total of 1,410 students started a degree programme on one of INSEAD’s three campuses: Fontainebleau (France), Singapore and Abu Dhabi (UAE). Only 11% of them were from the country where they began their studies. INSEAD’s Executive Education participants, faculty and staff are similarly international, with a total of 55, 35 and 24 nationalities employed in Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi respectively.

However, gender diversity is not quite such a success story. Only 35% of those enrolled on degree programmes in 2014–2015 were women – although the small PhD and Executive Masters in Consulting and Coaching for Change programmes are roughly fifty-fifty male-female. And, while women employees vastly outnumber men, only 15% of faculty are female.

Employment conditions are a priority for INSEAD, with more than nine out of ten employees on permanent and/or full-time contracts and 8,475 hours of training provided in 2014–2015. In terms of health and wellbeing, INSEAD offers free counselling and meditation workshops, available for staff and students in both Fontainebleau and Singapore. There are strict rules on threats and violence, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination on all three campuses, and surveys on staff morale are conducted every two years in order to create an even better working environment.

Operations and Campuses 

The three INSEAD campuses are at very different stages in their evolution and operate in widely divergent regulatory contexts for employment and environmental standards alike. During 2014–2015 both the Europe and Asia campuses carried out carbon footprint assessments (statutory in France, but piloted on a voluntary basis in Singapore). This revealed an 8.2% reduction in annual CO2 emissions for the campus in Fontainebleau in just one year.

The school has implemented a range of energy-efficiency measures on one or more campuses currently at pilot or roll-out stage. The school’s cross-campus IT department is also helping to improve energy efficiency by promoting a move to increasingly paperless course materials and cloud computing.

In Singapore, the third phase of campus development was completed in 2014–2015 with a new 10,000 m2 Leadership Development Centre that comprises teaching spaces, offices, a fitness centre, restaurant and 48 hotel-style bedrooms. The building was explicitly designed around sustainability criteria. “Green label” building materials were used and there is a recycling system for food waste. INSEAD was delighted to announce that the building achieved the Singapore Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Platinum status.

Funding and Governance      

INSEAD’s revenues of €210 million make it one of the world’s largest business schools in budgetary terms. The balance of income between degree programmes and Executive Education, together with a healthy endowment fund (valued at €189.7 million in August 2015) represents a highly sustainability financial model. This was enhanced in 2014–2015 by the introduction an Enterprise Risk Management Framework, based on input from staff at all levels of seniority.

Responsibility for managing sustainability is devolved across all of the school’s departments, which are overseen by an Executive Committee, consisting of the Dean, senior faculty and senior administrative staff. Management of the school is in turn is overseen by a Board of Directors who have the ultimate responsibility for governing INSEAD, given its status as a fully independent non-profit institution with no shareholders or parent university. As such, it has also created ten charitable foundations in different countries and built a highly active professional fundraising staff. Hence the sustainability of the school’s financial position is further enhanced.

Looking to the Future   

Not content with merely analysing its performance through the lens of the GRI standards, INSEAD is now making the INSEAD Sustainability Report 2014–2015 public. The goal is to be accountable to the school’s wide range of stakeholders: students, Executive Education participants, alumni, faculty, staff, applicants, recruiters of graduates, donors, sponsors, corporate clients, partner organisations, local communities, suppliers, contractors, the media, civil society and others. Above all, by reporting its performance INSEAD also seeks to raise its performance and to become ever more sustainable as an organisation in years to come.