Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Socially Responsible Leadership: How Business School Students Are Making An Impact

From addressing urgent healthcare needs to accelerating the growth of social impact startups—find out how business school students are embracing socially responsible leadership

Thu May 9 2024

From tackling social inequality to navigating environmental concerns, the social landscape is demanding more from business leaders.

The rising emphasis on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) coincides with shifting priorities among business school students. This trend is driven by businesses and investors recognizing the influence of ESG measures on long-term company performance and social responsibility. 

Business schools are increasingly adapting the curriculum to provide students with business knowledge and ESG expertise, which can help them succeed in impactful corporations. This includes both theoretical and experiential learning initiatives. 

Social initiatives play a pivotal role in equipping future business leaders with the skills, experience, and passion for wide-scale social and environmental impact in business. Through various social impact projects, students build a wealth of skills in project management, problem solving, and a commitment to creating positive change.

Here’s how business school students are embracing socially responsible leadership:

ESMT Berlin student leverages Responsible Leaders Fellowship

With a ‘pay it forward’ ethos, ESMT Berlin’s Responsible Leaders Fellowship places MBA and master's graduates with impactful organizations tackling social challenges in developing countries.

Through this fellowship, Romanian-native Tudor Dima landed a Venture Builder Analyst position at 2.5 Ventures, a Brazilian venture builder specializing in B Corps—businesses certified for their positive social and environmental impact.

During his six-month experience in Campinas, Brazil, Tudor witnessed first-hand the importance of organizations such as 2.5 Ventures. Providing mentorship and fundraising support, venture builders accelerate the growth of businesses that balance social impact with financial gain.

“My understanding of sustainability and its importance in business evolved since seeing the work of backbone organizations such as 2.5 Ventures who are supporting the creation of impact,” says Tudor. 

Tudor leveraged the skills he acquired during his Master in Management to conduct market research for a potential ESG investment platform, craft business cases for early-stage social impact ventures, and improve financial processes for the company.

Seeing the positive impact of ESG-driven businesses cemented Tudor’s decision to pursue a career focused on sustainability.

“My mentality changed completely. I started prioritizing learning skills that might help in the future regarding impact ventures and their effectiveness. I would now like to focus my career on supporting the transition towards a more impactful business world,” says Tudor.

With a passion to drive positive change and the proven ability to apply business knowledge to complex problems, graduates such as Tudor enter the workforce well-equipped to make an impact on the industry.

Wharton students tackle global health challenges with impact consulting

At Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania—a top M7 business school—students from various academic backgrounds lead impactful consulting projects with the Wharton Global Health Volunteers (WGHV) initiative.

For a full semester, students partner with under-resourced international healthcare organizations committed to social impact.

This is an opportunity for students to hone their business acumen and address pressing healthcare needs.

Building a model for high-impact healthcare in India

Over the spring semesters of 2019 and 2020, three WGHV teams developed an impact assessment of the Makunda Christian Leprosy and General Hospital in Assam, India. 

Specifically, students assessed the hospital’s healthcare provisions and subsequently created an impact rating system to score hospitals in low-resource settings based on impact potential. 

This analysis of Makunda’s charity care practice had an influence beyond this hospital, enabling Makunda to share best practices with other low-resource and high-impact hospitals around the world.

Expanding access to women’s healthcare in East Africa

In 2022, a team of WGHV students partnered with Kasha Inc., an e-commerce platform offering affordable and discreet access to women’s healthcare products to avoid social stigma.

Through market research and stakeholder interviews, the students developed a geographical expansion strategy to expand the company’s reach. 

The team’s assessment of the industry landscape in the target country informed their recommendations for Kasha, including potential partners and actionable next steps. 

The Rwanda-founded company had previously expanded operations to Kenya. In the time following their collaboration with WGHV, Kasha has developed plans to reach more of West and Central Africa by the end of 2024, with aims to expand globally in the future.

As social impact in business gains momentum, the evolving business landscape presents exciting opportunities for students who are passionate about making a difference. By equipping students to implement ESG principles in real-world settings, business schools are preparing grads to be the driving force behind a more sustainable future in business.