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  • UK & Ireland PRME Regional Chapter

UK & Ireland's 6th Annual Conference Report

The PRME Chapter UK & Ireland's 6th Annual Conference at Leeds University Business School attracted some 100 participants over three days from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, alongside guests from China, Sweden and Australia. Delegates left the Conference with a renewed commitment to the PRME initiative, having been inspired by three days of knowledge sharing, networking, and inspiration from fellow delegates and guest speakers. The theme of the conference was “Making Global Goals Local ”.

Highlights of the Conference included:

  • Presentation of a “Lifetime Achievement” Award from the UK & Ireland PRME Regional Chapter to Professor Alan Murray, founding Chair of the UK & Ireland Chapter. The Award is in recognition for Alan’s leadership and commitment to development of the PRME initiative in the UK & Ireland, and his inspiration and outstanding contribution to the development of responsible management education around the world. Presentation of a certificate and gift by Alec Wersun, Chair of the Chapter, was preceded by a moving and witty speech by close colleague and friend, Professor Carole Parkes, who shared much of Alan’s PRME journey.

  • Presentations by winners of the Chapter’s Inaugural Research Seed Funding Competition: Dr Lila Skountridaki (University of Stirling) Integrating the SDGs in HEI degrees accredited by Professional Associations; Dr Mikko Laamanen (Royal Holloway) Enabling Citizen Organising for Sustainable Transitions; Dr Soheil Davari (Hertfordshire Business School) Identifying and reducing inequalities in access to care and support for the elderly: A quantitative approach. This session was chaired by Professor Sheila Killian of Kemmy Business School, who conceived of the competition with Professor Carole Parkes of Winchester Business School.

  • Presentations by winners in the Postgraduate and Undergraduate Categories of the Annual PRME UKI Writing Competition: Kali Gibson, PG Category winner (Glasgow Caledonian University) with a paper entitled Entrepreneurship: A Possible Neo-Liberal Solution to Problems Caused by Neo-Liberalism; and Chloe Scott UG category runner-up (University of Hertfordshire) with a paper entitled Towards a greener future: How global supply chain managers can harness renewable energy to mitigate challenges and ensure access to sustainable energy for all.

  • An update on the PRME Strategic Review by Mette Morsing, Senior Advisor, PRME

  • Three Keynote Panels:

Keynote Panel 1 was on Business Ethics in International Supply Chains and featured a distinguished panel of practitioners from different sectors: Caroline Allen Senior Manager in Risk Consulting, KPMG; Chris McCann, Founder of Resilient.World, Commissioner for Ethics and Sustainable Development at the Royal Institute of British Architects; Prof. Chris Megone Director of Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied, University of Leeds; and Panel facilitator Professor Heinrich Voss of Leeds University Business School. Panellists highlighted the vacuum in human rights legislation in the period 1948-2000, which may go some way to explain why there are still 400 million in child labour, and companies continue to neglect their responsibilities in supply chain management.

Keynote Panel 2 was on Approaches to Fostering Diversity & Equality in the Workplace (SDG 10.2, 5.5) where panelists shared theoretical, professional and personal insights in to a spectrum of issues related to this theme. Sitting on the panel were Professor Binna Kandola OBE, Senior Partner at Pearn Kandola; Jane Kidd, European Talent & Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Kellogg; Sophie Seddon, Head of Client Engagement and Communication at Novus Property Solutions.

Keynote Panel 3 was on The Challenges and Opportunities of Going Circular (SDG 6, 8, 9, 11, 12), where delegates were treated to insights from a panel of practitioners in the field. On the panel were Davide Stronati, Global Sustainability Leader of Mott MacDonald; Bruce Learner, Senior CSR Manager at Kellogg Europe; and Katie Thomas, Low Carbon and Circular Economy Lead for York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

  • Three Keynote Lectures:

Keynote speaker 1 was investigative journalist Olivier Van Beemen who shared key findings from his book “Heineken in Africa: A Multinational Unleashed”. The book is the result of six years of thorough journalistic research, not only in thirteen African countries where the Dutch multinational is operating, but also in the company’s archives. Olivier’s presentation revealed the darker side of multinational operations in Africa, the challenges of doing business responsibly, and the irony of Heineken’s view of themselves in Africa as “An island of perfection in a sea of misery”!

Keynote Speaker 2 was Professor Timothy Devinney, University Leadership Chair at Leeds University Business School, who presented on the “Myth of the Ethical Consumer”, treating participants to a wealth of evidence to challenge the romantic notion of the ‘ethical consumer’.

Keynote Speaker 3 was Professor Helen Williams, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at Cardiff Business School, who offered Cardiff’s perspective and experience on “Business Schools and Public Value”, which resonates closely with PRME’s push to encourage business and management schools to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition to the above, delegates were treated to 25 papers and workshops over the three days, including one on how to get involved in global PRME working groups, one challenging delegates to imagine PRME in 2069, and one on what acadmeics and students can do to mitigate the impact of use of plastics.

The Chapter also held its Annual General Meeting during the Conference, where Chapter Officers summarised the successes of the past year* and plans for the year ahead. Now in its sixth year of existence, the UK & Ireland Chapter adopted a new set of Governance arrangements, which amongst others things increased composition of the Steering Committee from 8 to 10 members; pledged commitment to inclusivity and diversity on the Steering Committee, as well as efforts to ensure distributed geographic representation. Members elected four new members to the Steering Committee from Kingston Business School (Fatima Annan-Diab), Royal Holloway (Anica Zeyen), Birmingham University Business School (Nishat Azmat) and Salford Business School (Chris Doran). The Chapter has some 70 fee-paying members, and is in good financial health. In addition to the Annual Conference, the Steering Committee supported its members over the last year with:

  1. Faculty development workshops in Sheffield, Birmingham and Bristol on systems thinking, PRME topics, and mitigating the effects of plastic.

  2. A PRME writing competition to promote student assignments on PRME and SDG-related topics.

  3. The launch of a PRME-SDG research seed finding competition.

For the coming year, plans were announced to:

  • Support the growth of PRME Chapter Local Networks;

  • Develop further the PRME UKI Chapter writing competition to include a digital category;

  • Continue with the UK and Ireland PRME-SDG Research Seed Funding Competition;

  • Launch a Paper Development Writing Workshop for 3* and 4* Journals;

  • Develop a 3-year strategy to broaden and deepen the Chapter’s impact.

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