Focus on IÉSEG’s Responsible Leaders initiative: students’ engagement in the School’s CSR strategy

In 2018, IÉSEG launched the Responsible Leaders initiative, which aims to involve students in Lille and Paris-La Défense in the different activities and actions related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development within the School.

Each year, this voluntary initiative groups between 10 and 20 students together, who work on projects related to the School’s CSR strategy, in close relation with Maria Castillo, the CSR Manager. We met four Grande Ecole Program students who are current Responsible Leaders: Isaac Bouzerde (Master cycle, Finance major), Mathieu Laporte (Master cycle, Business Economics major), Victoria Guillemot (3rd year), and Alice Montier (Master cycle, Operations Management major). They shared their motivations and activities related to this initiative, as well as their expectations concerning CSR in the professional world.

Each student has their own reason for engaging themselves as a Responsible Leader. Isaac, who joined the program in October 2020, explains for example that he really began to be interested in CSR during his academic exchange program in Sweden.

4 projects led by our Responsible Leaders

This year (2020-2021), the students are working in groups on four different projects:

  • the development of a sustainability certificate for students,
  • the development of different online pedagogical content related to CSR themes
  • the IÉSEG Tree project, of which the goal is to assign a tree to each student
  • and finally the website.

Isaac Bouzerde

Isaac works notably on content for Created during the first lockdown this spring, this website provides different resources for the IÉSEG community (students, staff, etc.), to help them during this complex period. This includes resources and ideas related to: stress management and remote work; staying fit and active; culture, education and entertainment, as well as suggestions to stay in contact with and to maintain interactions within the School’s community. One of Isaac’s preferred activities is the “organization of a Word Café, a language exchange between French and international students.”

Mathieu Laporte

Mathieu works on two projects: the implementation of a sustainability certificate, which aims to reward students invested in sustainability (via their courses, internships, thesis and associative activities); and the development of online pedagogical tools designed for students, which cover subjects such as pollution, circular economy, etc.

Alice Montier

Alice, who has been a Responsible Leader since last year, has worked on certain aspects on IÉSEG’s 2025 Vision. In this framework, she has explored companies’ needs in terms of training students in the domain of CSR.

What does a typical week look like for Responsible Leaders?

« We don’t really have a typical week, as each subject that we are working on is carried on over a certain period of time, with its specific needs and missions.”

Victoria Guillemot

For Victoria, who is working on the sustainability certificate, the development of pedagogical content, and the Tree Project, it is very rewarding to be able to work on these missions during this complex time: “this Responsible Leader mission has allowed me to exchange with people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. I am happy to be able to speak with them regularly.”

Engaged students who want to make an impact

The four students also shared their vision of a Responsible Leader. “At IÉSEG, Responsible Leaders are students who share the same values, which allows us to realize that we are not alone,” Alice explains. “Everyone is able to act on their level to do their part concerning CSR, and it is important that students feel concerned by these issues.”

The views shared by the other students also stress the importance of ambassadors within the school to “get things done”.

“To be a Responsible Leader, it’s important to be curious, proactive and aware in order to move towards a more sustainable world,” Mathieu explains.

And after IÉSEG?

The students underlined the importance of CSR and sustainability in their future professional plans.

For Alice, who would like to work in operations management, it will be important for CSR to be integrated in the actions of the company she will join. This motivation is shared by Victoria, who is also considering the possibility of working in the sustainable event sector.

As for Mathieu, he would like to work in an environment where social and environmental justice are pillars. “I would like to work in the UN’s environmental program in order to propel change.”

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is at the heart of IÉSEG and of its 2025 Vision: to be “a unique international hub empowering changemakers for a better society”. It is integrated transversally across all of the activities at the School, which has been committed for a number of years to important international and national CSR-related schemes, such as the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).