“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry
We are living in a world full of changes. More than that: we are living in a world that demands changes. From the climate crisis to rising socioeconomic inequality around the globe, our societies face unprecedented challenges. Here at ESSEC, we see these challenges as an opportunity to build a better world together.
The ESSEC motto is “Enlighten. Lead. Change”. We are dedicated to training the leaders of tomorrow and to conducting innovative, high-quality research that takes on important societal questions. We believe in harnessing the power of knowledge and curiosity to make a difference in the world.
We also believe that it is our responsibility as a business school to take part in facing global challenges and contribute to building a more inclusive, just, and sustainable society. To that end, we launched our RISE strategy in October 2020, with three foundational pillars: Together, a strategic initiative for social and environmental transition; the Metalab, a multidisciplinary ecosystem at the intersection of data, technology and society; and Enlightening Entrepreneurship, a platform for supporting and training the next generation of entrepreneurs.
In this special issue, ESSEC Knowledge explores the issues addressed in the Together initiative. Designed to guide ESSEC through its social and environmental transition, Together provides opportunities for staff, students, and professors to actively contribute to the transition of the school. It has a three-pronged approach: environmental commitments, to provide solutions to the most pressing problems facing the planet; social and regional commitments, to contribute to the fight against social inequalities; and societal commitments, to spark positive change within the business school ecosystem and, more broadly, in our societies. Research in these areas is key to understanding and giving momentum to this transition. The articles selected for this special issue all highlight our pedagogical and academic commitment to this transformation.
Twenty-two ESSEC professors shared their insights for this special issue: experts in management, social innovation, operations research, finance, economics, workplace management, public and private policy, economics, gender equality, and information sciences. They provided their expert analyses on topics ranging from the responsibility of business schools to make a difference (a topic naturally very close to our hearts), building a philanthropic strategy, corporate sustainability initiatives, responsible innovation, the transformation of the agri-food industry, sustainable city logistics, green finance, gender equality, and the future of offices. The research looks at how topics like equality and the environment permeate different areas of business and our daily lives, and how these issues can be addressed in myriad ways across sectors.
With this special issue, we aim to spark a conversation on how social and environmental issues can be tackled using research and innovation. The world is changing quickly, and we all have a role to play in building a better future.