PRME Corner February Update: Should business schools nurture students to be compassionate?

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, compassionate is an adjective which means “feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others.” If everyone in the world shows compassion, then the world we live will be a better one. The better world that we expect to happen in 2030 is when there is no poverty, no hunger, and no inequality; where each and every one is responsible for others around them.

However, this is not what we all have experienced. Then, who should be responsible to make people be compassionate? People will answer this immediately that it must start from inner-self built in the family. The next question is could education system also support this?
The government, schools, institutions and other non-formal education institutions should also be responsible for nurturing students to be compassionate. This is because after young age, most of their time is spent in formal and non-formal education. Unfortunately, education system seems to focus more on developing students’ academic performance and equipping them to survive in a profit-oriented world.

Compassion does make sense to be developed through business schools. Managers need to feel about their employees, reducing their stress and increasing their performance. Employees who are concerned with other employees would also boost engagement and increase productivity. Business needs leaders who show generosity, kindness, and goodness in the workplace, environment, and society. When internal stakeholders care for each other, they will care for the external stakeholders. This kind of business is not only able to create business that is generating profit but also responsible profit.

The question then is whether business school curriculum has provided learning process that makes students experience and develop their compassion through their business proposals, investment strategy, and research ideas? Do we provide opportunities for students to foster compassion in their classrooms, organisations, and daily activities? Do we expose students to environment that nurtures them to service others for the betterment of environment and society? Do we encourage students to develop a business that generate profit through compassionate workplaces? Do students care for themselves, do they care for others, thus empower and help others ? and finally together sustain the business of their companies for all around them and the world? Still, those are questions to be answered by many business schools especially when UNSDGs are not clearly understood and implemented. Business that is developed with compassion will meet 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 agenda. [prme@sbm-itb.ac.id]

Author: Yunieta Anny Nainggolan