The College of Business at Illinois State has always emphasized ethical and responsible business behavior. We integrate ethics throughout the curriculum, and our Standards of Professional Behavior and Ethical Conduct serve as a model for business and academics alike. We have housed the Institute for Insurance Ethics for over ten years.Our faculty is committed to the development of ethical and responsible business leaders and many conduct research on issues of ethics and social responsibility.

It is with a great deal of pleasure that we announce that the College of Business at Illinois State University has become one of the very first public universities in the nation to become a signatory to PRME – the Principles of Responsible Management Education. PRME is an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact, and is jointly sponsored by AACSB International, the principle accreditation organization for colleges of business, the Aspen Institute, the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), and Net Impact.  We have joined a small group of very elite American universities to join PRME, including such institutions as Harvard, Wharton, Michigan, Columbia, and less than two dozen others.  ISU is only the third public university to join the PRME effort.

I am very proud of the College of Business, its faculty, staff and students for embracing PRME so thoroughly and so early. As one of the very first public institutions in PRME, we will be an example to other colleges of business throughout the world. We are currently reviewing our programs to determine how best to integrate PRME into the curriculum.

We are encouraging our faculty to investigate issues of global social responsibility in their research, and we are beginning to think about how we can make PRME and the UN Global Compact more widely known in our sphere of influence. In the fall, we will join the first signers in a “best practices” forum to exchange what we do, how we do it, and how we can do it better. Once again, the ISU College of Business has asserted itself as a national leader.

To provide some background

PRME is the academic side of the UN’s Global Compact, an international initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations with universally accepted principles of human rights, labor, environmental sustainability, and anti-corruption. Over 3000 corporations have officially agreed to the principles of the Global Compact, including such diverse businesses as Cisco, Coca-Cola, Nike, Deloitte Touche, eBay, The Gap, HP, Microsoft, Pfizer, Sun Microsystems and Dow.  Corporations that agree to the Global Compact work to integrate the principles into their overall strategies, and work with participants in their upstream and downstream markets toward global socially responsible operations.

The underlying purpose of PRME is to develop the foundations of commerce and markets throughout the world. In developing economies, business is often linked – many times unfairly – with corruption, economic and environmental exploitive practices, and even human rights and labor abuses.  Distrust of business and business practices often leads to political and economic decisions that are short-sighted and even destructive for young economies. At many levels the purpose of PRME is to build trust for business and business people by demonstrating respect for individual and labor rights, enhancing environmental sustainability, and fighting against corruption on all levels.  Our students need to be aware of how business can become a positive force for change through intentional strategies based on principles of global responsibility.

As part of PRME, we have agreed to “develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.”  We also agree to “incorporate into our academic activities and curricula the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.” There are research and service responsibilities as well. Finally, we agree to “facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, business, government… and other interested groups…on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.”

PRME is a natural extension of what the College of Business is already doing. Our Standards of Professional Behavior and Ethical Conduct place a high value on principles of honesty, respect, fairness, trust and responsibility.  Coupled with our strong emphasis on global business and the international aspects of commerce, it is only a small step to begin talking about the responsibilities of business and business people in the context of global human and labor rights, sustainable environments, and anti-corruption. In many ways in many of our classes, we are already doing so.

Above all, the members of PRME, including Illinois State University, seek to develop and widen the perspectives of the young men and women that we graduate into the business world. Our hope is that our graduates will go on in their business lives to influence others by their ethical and socially responsible conduct and attitudes. Over time, our graduates and those of other PRME colleges of business will help develop an international perception of business as an agent of positive change.