I recently had the opportunity to attend the Emerging Leaders Seminar at Yale University’s School of Management (SOM). They hosted seminars on a variety of topics from, “The Value of an MBA in the Global Market,” to “Why Would Companies Invest in Better Environmental Performance?”
Here are four key lessons I learned from the various sessions:
- What qualifies as “risk” in a risk mitigation strategy changes overtime. As policies change and evolve, companies react to the shifts. For example, in the 1960s, although child labor was verbally disapproved of, child labor laws were relatively nonexistent. A company in the 1960s that developed body soap for example, would not factor into their risk mitigation strategy the children in south east Asia working for low pay on palm oil plantations, palm oil being an ingredient in the body soap. However, today, that same body soap company would actively factor into their risk mitigation strategy child labor because of three main factors: strict child labor regulation, watchful NGOs, and the rise of technology and the media.
- Companies are becoming more sustainable for two primary reasons. Companies are actively working to increase their sustainability because of reputational risk and profit. As more companies move toward sustainability, others feel inclined to join the movement, fearing that failure to do so will result in dissatisfied customers who prefer sustainable practices. Moreover, being sustainable will attract customers who care about the company’s environmental footprint. In addition, companies care about their profit. Studies reveal that in the long term, sustainable practices can yield higher earnings. While many people contend that sustainability cuts into profit by increasing costs, research has found that sustainable practices have led to efficient operations by streamlining efforts and conserving resources, which subsequently reduces cost.
- The importance of social justice in business. According to the Yale SOM website, “the mission of the Yale School of Management is to educate leaders for business and society.” It is integral that Yale SOM graduates enter the business world with practical skills and empathy- ready to bring positive change to the world through ethical business practices. Whether it is through implementing sustainable business practices in a company, or working with vertical supply chain companies to ethically improve processes to enhance the livelihoods of the people at the bottom of the supply chain, Yale SOM graduates are prepared to improve the conditions of our world.
- Actively ask for concrete feedback. According to the article, “Vague Feedback is Holding Women Back” by Shelley Correll and Caroline Simard, women are less likely to receive feedback that can actually improve their performance. The feedback they receive is often vague and restricted to bland statements such as, “keep up the good work!” In contrast, men often receive concrete/technical advice from their manager(s). They are told specifically what areas they need to improve, and are provided steps regarding how to improve. As a result, men are likely to climb the corporate ladder quicker than women. Furthermore, giving/receiving feedback is complicated by “barriers” such as race, gender, age, etc. Regardless, it is vital for us to recognize that how we give feedback matters particularly for the individual receiving feedback. Additionally, how often and strategically we ask for feedback also influences our performance outcomes.
I would like to thank the Yale University School of Management for selecting me to be a part of a unique and phenomenal group of future global leaders.