How a European business school is advancing its sustainability performance with EcoVadis

February 16, 2024 EcoVadis EN

The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) is globally renowned for the quality of its graduate management education and executive education programs. 

The Swiss university institute first partnered with EcoVadis in 2015 and has since been awarded a Gold Medal, with EcoVadis playing “a pivotal role in the institute's sustainability journey,” according to IMD stakeholders.

How did your partnership with EcoVadis first begin? 

In the early 2010s, companies commissioning executive education programs began increasingly requesting information from us about the institute’s sustainability practices. The pace of inquiries rose as more multinational companies sought heightened transparency in their supply chains.  

In 2014, a French bank specifically recommended EcoVadis to us. Shortly afterward, a Swiss multinational did the same. 

IMD quickly embraced the single EcoVadis questionnaire as a one-form solution. This was better than facing an influx of company-issued questionnaires. 

John Evans, IMD Head of Campus Services, recalls, “EcoVadis helped us streamline. We didn’t – and we still don’t – have the time to complete many different surveys.”

How has that partnership evolved today?

Presently, IMD shares its EcoVadis results with 79 partners, most of whom commission executive education programs from the institute.

We bested our 2019 Silver Medal with a Gold Medal in 2022, placing us in the top 5% of all education-rated enterprises. We are proud of our continuously improving EcoVadis score. 

How have you found the EcoVadis assessment process?  What benefits have you seen? 

The EcoVadis process has motivated us to better organize sustainability-related data. Much information was previously scattered or out-of-sight. 

Take, for instance, data about trash quantities. Before EcoVadis, this data was not known beyond the facility maintenance personnel. Since we began working with EcoVadis, tabulating waste amounts and reporting them in our annual Sustainability Report, it has become an institutionalized process.  

“We’re more organized and data-informed because of EcoVadis,” notes Michelle Roos, IMD’s Sustainability Projects Coordinator.  

Have you seen any evidence of sustainable improvement within IMD since working with EcoVadis? 

IMD has long had a deep commitment to sustainability, and EcoVadis has helped further accelerate the adoption of improved sustainability practices. 

A few recent examples include: 

  • When we attained a lower-than-desired score in the sustainable procurement dimension, we undertook an effort to develop more robust sustainable procurement policies.

  • When an EcoVadis prompt asked about whistle-blowing and anti-bribery policies, we hastened the release of those otherwise-planned policies.

  • When completing the survey, we realized that employee access to numerous workplace policies was sub-optimal. That realization has advanced efforts to create a user-friendly Employee Handbook.

Natalia Olynec, IMD’s Chief Sustainability Officer, says, “EcoVadis has helped us communicate about areas for improvement with our leadership and to move forward the institution’s policies and strategy.”

How has receiving an EcoVadis Medal been of benefit to IMD? 

Since IMD earned an EcoVadis Gold Medal, the recognition has become part of the institute’s marketing and partnership-building efforts, strengthening IMD’s brand and reputation.     

Alongside mentions of the medal, we also are proud to talk about our Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business, numerous collaborations with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and a master’s degree program in Sustainable Management and Technology

Olynec explains, “We are proud to be one of the most sustainability-focused business schools in the world and to celebrate our continuously improving EcoVadis score.” 

How has your commitment to sustainability impacted the company culture at IMD?

When our EcoVadis Gold Medal was announced at an all-hands faculty and staff meeting in 2022, the excitement was palpable. Pride in working at IMD was enhanced.

Our colleagues have become even more eager to be part of sustainability improvement efforts now that IMD is externally recognized as a gold-level sustainability leader. It’s a virtuous reinforcing cycle.

Michaël Boulianne, the Head of IT Support and Services, notes, “EcoVadis contributes to a culture of paying attention to sustainability.”   

What does the future of sustainability look like for you at IMD? 

IMD plans to complete the EcoVadis survey again this year. We’re aware of changes that raise the bar for premier medal placements.

“EcoVadis was, at first, a form-completing project for us, but it has become a catalyst for better sustainability data collection and practices,” summarizes Eric Neutuch, IMD Accreditation and Institutional Projects Partner.

On this picture, from left to right: Michelle Roos,Sustainability Projects Coordinator, Eric Neutuch, Accreditation and Institutional Projects Partner, Natalia Olynec, Chief Sustainability Officer, Anne-France Borgeaud Pierazzi, Head of Public Affairs & Board Secretary and John Evans, Head of Campus Services. 

Thank you to Natalia Olynec, John Evans, Eric Neutuch, Michelle Roos, and Michaël Boulianne for their contributions to this article. 

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

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